ELK GROVE, CA - The 22nd Disabled Water Ski National Championships run Friday and Saturday at Shortline Lake in Elk Grove.
Among the competitors is 15-year-old Connor Aguilar-Poggetto of Carmichael who's been water skiing since the age of six.
"In the beginning it was completely for fun," Aguilar-Poggetto said. "Last year is when I started doing it competitively."
Aguilar-Poggetto has a rare condition that has left him partially paralyzed.
"Primarily, the brain doesn't know he has muscles from the knees down," his mother, Dianna Poggetto explained. "The disease usually affects individuals in their 40s and 50s."
Aguilar-Poggetto, however, was diagnosed at the age of 4. At the time, he was one of only 16 people in the world to suffer from the disease.
It has meant a number of operations over the years.
"He's had many challenges, and for me to see him achieve something, you know he wasn't able to compete in little league and other tream sports that every youth is able to do, and for me to watch him in this environment and be able to compete against individuals in their 30s and 40s and know that you've got a chance, it's amazing," Poggetto said. "It's truly a wonderful feeling for a parent."
The disabilities of those who compete range from paralysis to amputees to the blind. The blind skiers rely on audio bouys to keep them on course.
"You think you have challenges, but these athletes don't just survive, they thrive," Classification Chief Dr. Keith Barbour said.
Up to 14 competing athletes will be chosen to be part of the U.S. Team that will participate in the World Championships in Italy next summer.
Aguilar-Poggetto is hoping to be one of them.
By Jonathan Mumm, firstname.lastname@example.org