Graceful Wakes creates opportunities on the waterSubmitted: 07/17/2016
Story By Katie Leszcynski

Graceful Wakes creates opportunities on the water
RHINELANDER - Fifteen-year-old Grace Petzold is the founder of the non-profit Graceful Wakes. She gives those with disabilities the opportunity to get out on the water. She came up with this idea after her mom, who uses a wheelchair, was given that same experience.

"This past fall, my mom and I had the opportunity down in Florida to water ski together at another one of these adaptive clinics," Grace Petzold said. "That really inspired our family to want to do something because we realized how few people knew about these opportunities."  

Grace's mom, Wendy, did not ski in this clinic, but she knows how big an impact Grace is making.

"It's a blessing, it's huge," Wendy Petzold said. "There were a lot of tears this morning when those first participants went out. And just watching their families as well, it just warms my heart and makes us so happy."

Founding such an amazing non-profit at the young age of 15 can have it's challenges. But Grace plays a role in  every aspect of the organization that she can, including fundraising for all of the equipment.

"I can't quite take care of [every part of it], because it's legal business stuff," Grace says. "But I have my dad for that. But then I've been the one spreading the messages, doing Facebook, doing emails, contacting everyone, and that's fun to meet different people."

Wendy has been in a wheelchair for 25 years. She describes the feeling of being on the water in a powerful way.

"The feeling of the wind in your face and the freedom that you're out of your wheelchair and being able to be in a different place and on the water, is just wonderful," Wendy.

One of the skiers could relate to that feeling after she got her chance to be on the water.

"It was so amazing! It was just.. so great, I can't explain it. It was a great feeling," said skier Cindi Strobel.

That excitement and happiness is why Grace created Graceful Wakes.

"That just means the world, and that's why I love to do it," Grace says. "Because seeing those smiles when they come in, when they're on the water, hands in the air and screaming, squealing with joy--that's what it's all about, I think, and getting people that happiness and those opportunities."

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