Organization teaches visually impaired children how to water ski

Visually impaired children were learning how to water ski this week (WFSB)

Blind and visually impaired children had the opportunity to learn how to water ski this week.

The program is called Leaps of Faith Adaptive Skiers. It has been teaching blind or visually impaired children to water ski for 25 years.

This week their "soaring with the eagles" lessons were at Lake Zoar in Monroe.

"I’ve been water skiing and when I have the chance I try filming sometimes for my YouTube channel of me doing some water skiing,” said Nevin Delaney of East Lyme.

"I really love this place because they try and give every single person no matter what your disability of handicap a fair chance to try everything. And water skiing is a really fun activity to do,” said Jimmy Gelpin, of Stratford.

The goal of the event is to help kids increase physical fitness.

"It's exercise and it actually strengthens your arms and hamstrings and I like things like that,” said Bradley Snow, of Westport.

The lessons, which include water safety, also teach children about comradery.

"Year after year, seeing the kids come back not only getting better at water skiing but seeing them reconnect with the friends they made here. That's probably my favorite part of the whole thing,” said Deirdre Burke, who is a volunteer.

For these children, it's about using all of their senses in order to hit the water and build some confidence.

Joel Ziesler started the Leaps of Faith Organization after a man named Mark Heef-Cha came to him in 1992 and asked him to teach him to how to water ski over a jump.

"We taught him to go over the ski jump totally blind. He lost his sight in Vietnam 1969 with a rocket propelled grenade. He went on to actually win the national world championships in the disabled water skiing division,” Zeisler said.

Now Zeisler's organization teaches an assortment of activities to a variety of disabled children and veterans.

"All of these guys, including my son, gives them confidence to get out there and just have fun and try the next step which is great,” said Delaney.

Leaps of Faith also offers snow skiing.

Copyright 2017 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.


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