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Lake Wales
Friday, April 12, 2024

Paddle On! Lake Wailes Helps People with Disabilities Enjoy Water


by James Coulter

Summer is right around the corner. Everyone should have the chance to cool off and enjoy the water, especially those with special needs and disabilities. That reason is why Paddle On Lake Wailes is being hosted this Saturday at scenic Lake Wailes Park.

Not only will the event provide aquatic activities with paddle boarding, canoeing, and kayaking for everyone, including families and individuals with special needs and disabilities, but the fundraiser will also raise proceed for an aquatic park being planned for such individuals.

Attendees are invited to bring along their favorite personal watercraft, be it paddleboard, canoe, or kayak, and enjoy the scenic waters of Lake Wailes Park. Special watercraft designed for people with disabilities will also be provided, allowing everyone the opportunity to enjoy the water.

The big event will be an aquatic poker run. Attendees will be able to paddle their way to five poker stations located around the lake for a chance to obtain a poker hand and win various prizes. They don’t even need to get in the water. They’re more than invited to walk around the lake and collect their cards as well.

Various other activities and chances to win prizes will be offered throughout the day. Proceeds will go toward funding Stirring Waters, a proposed aquatic park being planned and designed for individuals with disabilities.

“Hopefully, we can make some money,” said Bill Redmon, founder, and organizer of Stirring Waters. “If we can raise $10 to $15 thousand off of it, we can be very happy, and we will probably do that the way it is shaping up.”

Redmon served as the director of Lake Lord Fishing Camp for 34 years before retiring in 2006. Following his retirement, he served many programs to help benefit and serve people with disabilities. He also started a non-profit organization called Removing the Barriers, an initiative to help organizations with disabilities including Lake Lord Christian Camp.

“I was a trained lifeguard for 34 years, so I know the value of water when it comes to play and quality of life,” he explained. “When it comes to serving people with disabilities, I realize that the traditional water experiences were not working for them. I started to problem solve and figure out what would work.”

He hosted various focus groups to learn how people with special needs and their families experienced various aquatic activities. He asked them three main questions: one, what works for them at various water parks and pools; two, what does not work and gives them trouble; and, three, what are major dealbreakers that prevent them from going?

After analyzing the data he collected, Redmon concluded that the best solution would be to build a water park where people with disabilities and their families could enjoy various aquatic activities. That idea became known as Stirring Rivers.

Paddle On! will serve as a fundraiser for Stirring Rivers. So far, the event has been received well by the city and its residents. Many people have expressed interest in attending, and many have registered beforehand.

“We really do not have high expectations for the crowd, but we are very pleased with it as far as an initial event where it is right now,” Redmon said. “Come paddle with us. My heart is for families with disabilities to come with a fun on-the-water experience.”

Paddle On! Lake Wailes will be hosted on Sat. May 6 from 9 AM to 2 PM. To learn more and register, visit their website at gopeacemakers.com

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