Garrett Bazany has always been active, participating in track, cross country and skiing. So when a trampoline accident left him paralyzed from the chest down, it is no surprise that the accident didn’t change his resolve to stay active.
“I think I was down in the dumps for a little while,” said Bazany, who is a student at Calvin College. “It was during my recovery when I was starting therapy that I resolved to be as independent as possible.”
After making that commitment, the toughest obstacle Bazany faced was waiting the mandatory year from the time of his accident – to prevent further injury – before he could pursue the world of adaptive sports. And the Grand Haven resident didn’t have to look too far to enter that world since Kentwood Parks & Recreation Department is one of the few places in West Michigan that offers a variety of adaptive sports programs.
Kentwood’s adaptive sports program is the focus of this year’s The Vibe, a Kentwood Parks & Recreation Gala fundraiser event, set for May 13, from 6 – 10 p.m .at the Bluff Banquet & Conference Center, 2035 St. SE. Bazany is the featured speaker for the event.
“Kentwood has always been a very inclusive community and extremely diverse,” said Kentwood’s Recreation Program Coordinator Katelyn Bush, who oversees the adaptive sports program. “Even within its regular programs, the city has worked to be very inclusive and accessible.”
The adaptive programs are specifically designed for those with physical or cognitive limitations. The program which has been around for more than 25 years, is run by a certified therapeutic recreation specialist, which Bush is. The programs include a golf league, bowling league, adaptive swim, archery club, bocce league, canoe, kayak, and rock climbing.
“We will host our first ever adaptive track and field event at Grand Valley State University,” Bush said, adding that the event is scheduled for June 18.
Perhaps the most popular program is the adapted water skiing.
“Inevitably, someone always says ‘oh is that why we have a boat in the garage,’ when they find out about the water ski program,” Bush said with a chuckle.
There is a an adapted water ski clinic and private lessons all of which are run through a cooperative with East Grand Rapids at EGR’s Reeds Lake. The water ski clinic was the first adaptive program Bazany participated in.
“You kind of sit in this cage structure and are strapped in,” Bazany said. ” I remember the water being cold. There this is rope that pulls you and if you feel comfortable, you can hang on to the rope and start to control the ski.”
Within just a couple of rides, Bazany was able to control the ski. He enjoyed it so much that he began taking private lessons in water skiing and now does both water and snow skiing.
“I was use to doing these things before my accident and was facing that I couldn’t do them anymore,” Bazany said. “These programs challenged me to let go, be free and be active.”
“It’s a great thing to give people who are facing a tough time. It really gives them the opportunity to explore something new and enjoy what they are doing.”
Individual fees cover most of the cost of the adaptive programs, Bush said, adding that while The Vibe event is a fundraiser for the Parks & Recreation Department, the purpose for focusing on the adaptive program is to create more awareness about the different programs Kentwood’s Park & Recreation Department offers.
“This year it is the adaptive program,” Bush said. “We also have kids and family programs. We coordinate senior enrichment programs and special events. The Vibe is to educate people that there is always something going on.”
Tickets for this year’s The Vibe program are $75 per person and available at www.kentwoodvibe.com or call 616-656-5270. For more information on the programs offered by the Kentwood Parks & Recreation, such as the adaptive programs, visit www.yourkprd.org.