A life-changing mother-daughter experience leads teen to her calling
Graceful Wakes aims to create special moments in the Northwoods
BY EILEEN PERSIKE
Waterskiing in the Northwoods is something many enthusiasts take for granted. But that simple enjoyment is only a dream for some; or it was until now. Fifteen-year old Grace Petzold and her family have founded Graceful Wakes, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization with a mission to “enhance the quality of life” for physically and mentally disabled individuals and their families.
The idea came last fall, when Petzold was able to ski with her mother, Wendy, for the first time. Wendy has a spinal cord injury and uses a wheelchair, but was able to waterski using an adaptive device. That experience led to Graceful Wakes which is sponsoring a free adaptive waterskiing clinic in Rhinelander July 15 at Hodag Park; from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Participants may include adults or children age six or older with learning or physical disabilities, wounded warriors, amputees, the spinal cord injured, children or adults with autism and others.
At the clinic, participants will use a specially-designed adaptive waterski and will be flanked by two trained skiers.
Grace said skiing with her mother has become a “highlight of her 15 years of life,” and realized that there are opportunities like this available to people with disabilities, if they know about them and can afford them.
“I realized that it was my calling to change this,” she stated in a fundraising letter. Eventually Graceful Wakes would like to move beyond adaptive water sports and be able to provide everyday tools, such as hand controls in a car or a ramp at home to individuals with disabilities.
Space is limited for the upcoming clinic. For registration, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.