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This post was written in 2018 by Mary Anne Lewis who owns and runs the Brass Lantern Inn with her husband George in Stowe, Vermont. Over the past few years, their son Patrick has been a GMAS scholarship recipient. He has participated in GMAS’ skiing, aquatics, and paddle boarding adaptive programs. Since Covid-19 is keeping our programs on pause at this time, we thought that you would enjoy this story.

So, I know many of you have recently seen the picture of Patrick on Facebook doing adaptive paddle boarding. But how exactly, did this come about? I recently joined the Board of Directors for Green Mountain Adaptive Sports. As Patrick’s mom and an O.T., I appreciate what this dynamic group of people do to get individuals with all kinds of disabilities out and about, enjoying a sport they may never otherwise be able to participate in. For Patrick, his primary participation with this organization is adaptive skiing. GMAS not only provides the equipment to make adaptive skiing possible, but they provide the scholarship that funds the 2 to 1 ski instructor ratio fees, along with the lift ticket for Patrick. 

Mountain Adaptive Sports also has adaptive paddle boarding. The thought never occurred to me to try this with Patrick, but the program is being run this summer by two new coaches, so these two gentlemen came to a board meeting, and BINGO!  A light bulb went off while I was sitting there. The “typical” individual who participates in this program is usually a little more mobile than Patrick and can generally stand on the board for short periods. But, I started thinking…why couldn’t Patrick work on sit down paddle boarding? So, I applied for a one lesson scholarship, and guess what? Patrick loved it! Absolute squeals of delight!

Patrick sitting on paddle board

Patrick sat on the board “criss cross applesauce” and at first he leaned back with trepidation on the instructor. Then he gained confidence and the instructor moved back, and Patrick was sitting independently. What an excellent way to work on Patrick’s core muscles. The instructors, Brian and Noah, were absolutely marvelous. I think they were a little nervous at first, but they, too, realized how well Patrick was doing and how happy he was. Eventually they wiggled the board and challenged Patrick’s balance, even turning the board quickly to see what Patrick would do. And, yep, you guessed it, he fell in the lake! (Bonus swim for Patrick!)  It wasn’t too difficult to get him back on the board, and off they went again. He lasted a full hour for his first session.

It was such a success, that Patrick now has a full scholarship for the summer of 2018, and we are off to Lake Elmore weekly. How’s that for thinking out of the box, and having a truly happy ending? The therapist in me wants to take his walker one of these days, and see if maybe, just maybe, he may actually be able to try STAND UP paddle boarding…Hang Ten, Patrick, Hang Ten!!