Where We Play

Tyler Shelton, of Thomson, was one of 17 water skiers participating in the Walton Foundation for Independence's Wee Kan Ski Adaptive Water Skiing clinic Friday.

He was also one of the skiers with the biggest grins.

Shelton, 12, said he would water ski every day as long as he didn't have to wake up too early.

"I'm not a morning person," he said, grinning.

Just two years ago, after having surgery to remove a brain tumor, Shelton lost all his motor skills. With home therapy and occupational therapy once a week, Shelton has regained speech and has almost mastered walking again.

This was Shelton's second year participating in the clinic, which lasted from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m.

Dozens of volunteers came out to Points West Recreation Center's beach at Thurmond Lake to steer boats, man personal watercraft, swim and cheer on the skiers and tubers.

They assisted Shelton into the custom-made skis, with outriggers on the sides for balance. After hooking the ski to a rope, Shelton took off. With two volunteers spotting at the back of the boat and four on two personal watercraft following on the sides, Shelton was ensured a safe, carefree ride.

After he got back on the beach, Shelton was ready to go again. Not far removed from being unable to talk, eat or walk, few would've thought he'd be laughing on a ski, motioning for the driver to go faster.

The best part of skiing was just getting wet, Shelton said. He had hoped he might fall out of the ski seat because he enjoys the water so much.

"Just remember, when you fall out, there will be someone right there to help," Shelton said.

"It's been a long road, ain't it, boy?" Shelton's father, Jeff, asked.

"Yup," he replied.

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