Flathead County Coverage

Jul 4, 2012 11:14 AM by Laura Wilson - KAJ News

Flathead camp making dreams come true

The weather has finally turned nice in the Flathead which means many people are heading out to the lake to recreate. One local, non-profit, group wants to make sure people with a handicap or disability will have the same opportunity to get out on the lake this month as well.

The DREAM program has given children and adults with disabilities the chance to participate in a variety of winter and summer outdoor activities for over two decades, and from July 24th through July 26th, they'll have the chance to hit the lake for a day of water sports, fun, and a chance to be a part of something many of them felt they'd never be able to do.

"One of the more interesting things, too, is to see parents and family members excited to see their family member doing things they never thought possible," Jerry Mahugh, with DREAM explained.

The free program features adaptive water skiing, wakeboarding, tubing, and boat rides, and is open to all ages.

"We have people as old as 60 years old participating. [It's open to] any kind of disability-cognitive, paralysis, vision impaired, and many others. We've actually taken blind people water skiing and paraplegics waterskiing," Mahugh said.

One of the non-profit's main goals is to give participants the confidence and ability to get out and try new things in life.

"Last year, we had a young boy afraid of the water. By the end of it, we had him out on a tow rope behind the boat going at fairly good speeds and getting water splashed into his face," DREAM Executive Director Bruce Gibson told us.

The one-day camp is a memorable is experience for many athletes-but organizers say they need the help of volunteers to ensure it is also a safe one.

"One of our big needs is people that are strong in the water as far as swimming abilities. We need a couple of rescue swimmers. Every activity, we send out a jet ski with rescue swimmer on it behind the boat [towing the people]. If someone tips over or falls in the water, we have someone in the water next to them within seconds. On land, we need people to help with the kayaks, and we need some kayakers out there," Gibson said.

DREAM volunteers say they want their program to leave a long-lasting impression on as many people as possible and will accommodate every single participant who signs up prior to the start of camp.

Organizers are still deciding on a location for the camp, due to wake restrictions at several lakes in the area. If you are interested in signing someone up for the camp or volunteering, you can contact Gibson at (406) 862.1718, or click here.

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