Disability doesn't have to bar water skiing
Chad Murphy-Price is a self-confessed flirt, an off-the-cuff comedian and a water skier. The 29-year-old old runs his own web design company and also does motivational speaking around the country.
Murphy-Price of Waukesha is a passionate advocate for people with disabilities — he focuses on their abilities, and proved a good model as he gave adaptive water skiing demonstrations recently at the 47th annual Wisconsin State Water Ski Show Tournament at Lake Wazeecha, just outside of Wisconsin Rapids.
During the demonstrations, he was driving the boat or explaining the ski techniques. Murphy-Price has cerebral palsy and always has used a wheelchair. That hasn't stopped him from trying just about anything; he said, "no" isn't part of his vocabulary, Daily Tribune Media reported.
"I started adaptive water skiing about three years (ago) and absolutely love it," Murphy-Price said while at Lake Wazeecha. "I want to give youth and adults with disabilities the opportunity to (ski) on a more regular basis.
"The adrenaline rush that I get ... it's an awesome feeling," Murphy-Price said. "It's indescribable, really."
Kurt Roskopf, the director of the Wisconsin Water Ski Federation's disabled division, has been working with Murphy-Price to promote the sport for others with disabilities.
As a teenager, Roskopf met Murphy-Price's mom at a legislative breakfast and, in turn, met Chad.
"What does Chad do, he comes over with a couple business cards — he does web mastery and all these other talents he has — and it sparked a friendship," Roskopf said. "As I found out more about what he likes in his life, I thought of the ski club."
Murphy-Price not only learned to ski, he got more involved with the club and is now director of its waterfront festival.
Members of the Wisconsin Water Ski Federation are working to get adaptive water skiing included as an official element of the organization, Roskopf said.
Some of those efforts are devoted to making others more aware of the availability of adaptive sports by giving demonstrations at events like the state tournament.
It's not a new idea, but it is a growing one, said former Aquanuts water show skier and occupational therapist Sue Richey of Twin Lakes.
"Once I discovered there was a whole world of adaptive water sports for people with disabilities, I approached the Aquanuts, and they were more than willing to develop an adaptive water ski program right at our show site," Richey said.
The 13-year-old program now has more than 200 participants each summer in Twin Lakes, she said.
"We've built our adaptive equipment and can pretty much accommodate for any disability that someone has to come out and water ski and have a great time on the lake," she said
Participants unable to stand can use a sit ski, which is made with a wider center adaptive ski, attached to two trick skis for balance and stability. A seat is anchored to the center ski. While skiing, Murphy-Price is strapped into the seat and always wears a life jacket.
Members from three competitive teams assisted with the recent demonstration. Team members helped lift Murphy-Price from his wheelchair and get him into the water. Two skiers skied on either side of Murphy-Price as he made two passes in front of the cheering spectators.
"It hit close to home, because it's something I love to do," said Trevor Pickart, 22, a skier with the Muskego Water Bugs, a Division I team. Pickart said it was cool to see people with disabilities have the opportunity to feel the same excitement other water ski performers get to experience.
People often are inspired by Murphy-Price's demonstrations, said Murphy-Price, who also assists with sound and music for the Pewaukee ski club — when he's not doing demos or posing for photos with the girls.
Murphy-Price doesn't see his wheelchair as a barrier — he said people's perceptions are the barrier.
"I believe it's about time for the public to start focusing on people's abilities rather than their disabilities, and I just love to do the adaptive water sport.
"If I can give people a chance to get the joy that I do, it's all worth it," Murphy-Price said.
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