Adaptive sports program brings joy to Valley children

FRESNO, Calif.

Children of all ages took over a private lake in Sanger Saturday. Jordan Gifford, 5, of Fresno couldn't hide his excitement as he water-skied for the first time in his life.

A birth-defect forced doctors to amputate Jordan's legs. Still, his dad, Ryan says that hasn't stopped him from enjoying his childhood. "He likes being out in the water. He likes doing things and so it's one more thing he's able to do."

Children's Hospital Central California started its Adaptive Sports program four years ago, with just four children participating. But, with the help of volunteers and sponsors more than two dozen kids are able to enjoy this day.

The program is free to any child, with a physical or mental disability, regardless of whether or not they've been a patient at Children's Hospital.

"The access to sport is very limited for people with disabilities and it's such an important part of their well being, their physical health, their emotional health," Jennifer Crocker, M.D. said.

Getting these kids into the water is no easy task. It takes a team of volunteers and special equipment, which allows them to sit instead of stand.

"I was a little bit nervous, but when i got into that water, i just kept on going." Jenna Barnes said. And that's the goal of this program.

To teach these kids that, despite their disabilities, they can accomplish anything. "There's pride, excitement. Just letting her go out there and being able to do it. It's great," Melissa Cooley said.

Employees at Children's Hospital hope to expand the Adaptive Sports program by adding things like basketball and snow skiing.

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