KALISPELL – It’s been a special week at Echo Lake in Bigfork for the 14th annual DREAM Adaptive Water Sports week.
DREAM Adaptive works with individuals with disabilities in Northwest Montana to make outdoor activities more accessible.
Throughout the week, 25 participants ages five and older have been water skiing, wakeboarding, paddle boarding and more.
Ty Espeseth and his twin brother Griffin put on a show on water skis, ripping across the lake.
“It’s really nice being able to do just kind of move around in like a much faster way because you can only swim so fast, and you also get a really good breeze,” said Ty.
Ty and Griffin were both diagnosed with Autism at the age of two and thanks to DREAM Adaptive, they’re now outdoor enthusiasts all year long.
“I get emotional but…the DREAM program really got us started up on the mountain which I’ve skied my entire life up there and now we ski together, and Ty and Griffin are really good strong skiers, and they love it,” said TY’s mother Janet Espeseth.
Janet sees her boys gaining confidence and important life lessons every time they recreate with DREAM Adaptive.
“We’re really hopeful for them to have independence and find their way in this world, it just takes a little different path and a little more time and they’re going to get there, but things like this, it matters, and it helps,” said Janet.
Jody Colt had a fun time tubing with her 10-year-old daughter Maren, both smiling while making memories.
“And this is Maren’s first time ever doing any water sports like this, and she had a blast, they got us right on the tube the first thing when we walked out, and it was really awesome because we got to connect and there was tons of high-fiving and yelling and cheering and that was really special for us,” said Colt.
She said Maren loves the family atmosphere DREAM Adaptive provides.
“She said to me while we were eating lunch, she said you know I just notice that all of us out here have totally different abilities and I think it’s so cool because we’re having fun,” said Colt.
Janet hopes DREAM Adaptive continues to grow, creating more outdoor opportunities for individuals with disabilities in northwest Montana and beyond.
“It was really a small program when we started with it and so it’s pretty impressive now what the possibilities are,” said Janet.