An eMagazine about wheelchair-accessible events, sports & locations in Arizona

Day on the Lake


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This weekend all the accessible parking spots were full at Bartlett Lake as Barrow Neurological Institute held the 10th Annual Day on the Lake event.  The 2-day event allows individuals with disabilities the chance to participate in water skiing, jet skiing, fishing, kayaking, and boat rides. With temperatures in the low 100’s, the event’s organizer Jill Sclease and the entire volunteer crew did a great job of keeping every cool, safe, fed and active. The turn out both days was estimated 200 participants and their families.

Day on the Lake has always been held at Bartlett Lake 30 miles north of Phoenix.  Bartlett Marina is managed by veteran chair user Bryan Church who I first met in 1986 going through SCI rehab. The event is well organized. To give you an example, I think I signed my name no less than six times on all the waivers and releases required to get in. Once the lawyers are happy, participants get checked out for swimming safety. This basically amounts to being baptized by a few big guys who carry you out for a quick dunk. If you are still breathing, you pass.

Now the fun starts. There’s a few ski boats taking crews out for their turn to water ski. Most of the skiers are using sit skis, which is basically a wheelchair frame atop one or two skis. To the outside observer, you’d think the president was skiing, as there’s 2 boats and 2 or 3 ski skis following along with photographers and safety personnel. When the skier goes down, everyone swarms in to make sure the lawyers don’t need to fall back on the documents we signed.

For each skier, there is a herd of volunteers following along to assure a safe ride.

For each skier, there is a herd of volunteers following along to assure a safe ride.

Back on the dock, the kayaks are good family fun. Most of the kids get out there and start splashing their siblings with the paddle for amusement (and to keep them cool). Other folks are getting rides on jet skis. There’s one buff guy and a few normal looking guys giving rides. When ever Mr. Buff arrives, all the girls line up. I’d swear there was a few fakers limping over to get a free ride.

The free jet ski rides were quite popular.

The free jet ski rides were quite popular.

For myself and a few others, we putzed around in Bryan’s 50′ party boat with the tunes on and plenty of cold beverages. This was the first year I photographed the event and I cant say I shot anything stunning. With everyone having fun, it’s pretty easy to get some great smiles, but when its 100 degrees out and the sun is straight overhead, photos look pretty flat.

Barrow has some good photos by David Sattler at the Barrow’s event site , and I noticed a photographer named Harry Melamed has some for sale here, Fellow wheelchair shooter, Mark xxx has some here. Thanks to Jill for inviting me. Actually I think I invited myself, but it’s a great event, and hope to return. I have a few ideas for how to get some better photos next time.

Event coordinator, Jill Sclease from Barrow Nuerological Institute removes some debris from the marina.

Event coordinator, Jill Sclease from Barrow Nuerological Institute removes some debri from the marina.

One last tidbit. When it comes to lakes around Phoenix, there’s Saguaro, Pleasant and Bartlett. I’m familiar with all three and none are more accessible than Bartlett. Lake Pleasant gets the lowest marks, and Saguaro is respectable, but the marina and the areas controlled by the Tonto National Foreast at Bartlett get top marks. The drive from Carefree to the lake is also quite scenic. In the East Valley, Canyon Lake (AA review here) gets the best marks for its fishing peer and the privately operated Hello Dolly Steamboat tours. Shame on us for not having a thorough review of Bartlett Lake as yet.

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1 Responses »

  1. Our son Patrick (age 11) has attended Day at the Lake for 3 years and has enjoyed it each time. What a well-run and well-done event!

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What Acessing Arizona Is All About

Accessing Arizona is primarily designed for people who are looking for wheelchair accessible events, locations and activities. If you have paralysis (paraplegic or quadriplegic), Muscular Dystrophy, Spinal Bifida, or if you are an amputee, Accessing Arizona has information about an active lifestyle.
If you are traveling to Phoenix, Tucson, Flagstaff, Sedona or the Grand Canyon, the site offers insight about the accessibility. We cover trails, lakes, state parks, national parks and just about anything claiming to be handicapped accessible. The site also covers sports and recreation in Arizona.
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