HELENA — Several people with limb loss, limb difference, and other physical challenges gathered Friday, July 15, 2022, at Holter Lake for Montana's first-ever adaptive wake surfing clinic.
The clinic offered waterproof prosthetic knees and feet as well as a harness for upper extremity patients, which their patients the means to succeed, and in turn, they hope to inspire confidence.
“I think for the people that get out and try it, it's a huge confidence booster - like, 'Wow, I can do this! Maybe I can run or maybe I can go do these other activities, if I can get behind a boat and go surfing.' It usually inspires them to be more confident in their life, so it's huge,” said Robert Carvelle, CPO of Hanger.
But of course, with any new hobby there comes a learning curve.
“Oh, anything behind a boat, it's getting up out of the water. That's the hardest thing once you're up and going it gets a lot easier but we're lucky to have all our volunteers to get in the water with these folks and help them get the board set and the rope tight and everything ready. And then they're able to have a lot better chance of getting up out of the water with the coaches in the water helping them,” Carvelle said.
“The biggest thing we want to do today is build community for these patients and get them out and show them something that they might never ever have an option or access to doing it. You know, getting their friends and their families and these patients behind these boats with the Hanger prosthetics and the Blachford technology. It's just really a special day to be able to give them back something what they may be missing,” said Scott Taylor, Blatchford territory manager.
Both Carvelle and Taylor grew up participating in watersports, so being able to give their patients the same experiences brings them joy.
"Yeah, I just met Scott through work, and Hanger has put this event on in Colorado for eight years. And we're a small community in Great Falls, but doesn't mean we don't get to do this cool stuff, too. So just get together with a group of like minded people, and you can do some fun things," Carvelle said.
The most rewarding part for the pair is when it 'clicks' for their new surfers.
"The hardest part about it is the progression that it takes to stand up. But I've always said it's kind of like riding a bike. So once you get up, it kind of clicks for you. And then you kind of go have that '!Aha!' moment. And then it makes it a lot easier going forward. But there's certainly progression. But the smiles that we can put on their their faces is just fantastic," Taylor said.
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