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Wounded Soldiers Learn to Water Ski at First Annual Event in New York; New York City Firefighters Teach Adaptive Water Skiing Clinics in Support of War Heroes.

QUEENS, N.Y. -- Disabled Sports USA's (DS/USA) first annual 2005 Adaptive Water Sports Festival, an event to teach people with disabilities participation in adaptive water sports, will feature soldiers and Marines who were severely wounded in the war in Iraq, as well as Tom Westman, winner of the CBS television series Survivor Palau and members of the New York City Fire Department. The Water Sports Festival will take place in Rockaway Point, New York, July 7-10, and will offer anyone with a physical disability the opportunity to experience water sports, including water skiing, wakeboarding and fishing. Twelve U.S. soldiers and Marines injured during the Iraq conflict will participate in the event as special guests.

On the first day of the event, the Water Skiers and Disabilities Association will provide lessons to 25 New York City firefighters to train them as adaptive water ski and wakeboard instructors. These firefighters will spend three days teaching adaptive water sports to all participants, including the twelve wounded soldiers and their families. Heroes will be teaching heroes, as many of the New York City firefighters participating are among those who acted courageously to save lives on September 11, 2001.

"These soldiers are real life survivors who have put their lives on the line for all of us," said Tom Westman, New York City firefighter and winner of the CBS television series Survivor Palau. "Events like the Water Sports Festival help disabled persons realize their potential and give them the tools to move beyond their injuries."

"Since losing my leg to a rocket propelled grenade in Iraq, I treasure the opportunities DS/USA provides to challenge myself to achieve more," said First Lieutenant Ed Salau of the National Guard. "Participating in sports has helped me realize that I can overcome any obstacle I might face in the future, as long as I have faith in my abilities, I believe that I can do anything."

"Facing the challenges of a disability can be an overwhelming experience," said Kirk Bauer, executive director of Disabled Sports USA and a disabled Vietnam War veteran. "With the New York City firefighters volunteering to teach at the Adaptive Water Sports Festival, it sends a powerful message to everyone with a disability that all challenges can be faced and overcome with courage and perseverance. It's amazing to see all of these different heroes working together in the face of adversity."

The weekend will kick off with the Heroes in the Harbor Maiden Voyage, aboard the Atlantis Mega Yacht. This celebration will honor the sacrifices and rehabilitation efforts of our soldiers and Marines who have been disabled in the war effort. The dinner cruise will depart from Sheepshead Bay at 6:30 pm on Friday, July 8th.

Sponsors of the event include: Wounded Warrior, United Spinal Association, Graybeards, FDNY and the Atlantis Mega Yacht. Adaptive Sports Foundation of Windham, NY along with several other chapters of Disabled Sports USA will be taking part in water ski instructor training.

About Disabled Sports USA

Founded in 1967 by disabled Vietnam veterans, Disabled Sports USA provides opportunities for individuals with disabilities to gain confidence and dignity through sports, recreation and educational programs. The organization is the nation's largest multi-sport, multi-disability organization and serves more than 60,000 people nationwide. A member of the U.S. Olympic Committee, DS/USA conducts regional, national and international training camps and competitions to prepare athletes for the Paralympic Games--the international Olympic-sanctioned competitions for athletes with physical disabilities. DS/USA also offers sports rehabilitation programs through its nationwide network of over 80 community-based chapters. More information is available at www.dsusa.org.
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Publication:Business Wire
Date:Jun 10, 2005
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