Aqua Jays modify bleachers, add handicapped seating

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Friday, July 23, 2010
— It breaks Jeanice Fox’s heart to watch people struggle getting their loved ones with special needs to the Rock Aqua Jays’ show site.

“I see them struggling parking and with a loved one ambling across the lot to get to a spot in the bleachers,’’ said Fox, who is grants co-chairperson for the local water ski show club.

Fox knows firsthand what it’s like to have concerns about a loved one with handicap or mobility issues. Her late husband, Jim, needed a firm, flat surface to walk on while suffering from a brain tumor.

She also doesn’t believe anyone with disabilities should stay home and miss out on enjoying life.

“They should be out making memories with their families,’’ she said.

That’s why, after the floods of 2008, the Janesville woman applied for a grant to reconstruct the handicapped seating at the club’s home site along the Rock River in Traxler Park.

With $1,400 received from the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation Quality of Life Grants Program, the Aqua Jays nearly tripled handicapped seating from a small area along the shoreline to an area in front of a bleacher section that accommodates 14 wheelchairs and has plenty of seating directly behind for family and friends.

Although reconstruction was completed in July of last year with the help of club volunteers, few people are using the space, said Fox, who thinks the community is not aware of the improvements.

“It’s sad. The space has been underused, and I want people to know it’s here.’’

The club performs two shows a week Memorial Day through Labor Day weekend and will host show ski nationals the weekend of Aug. 13, 14 and 15.

“The goal was to provide families and caregivers of disabled an opportunity to be ‘normal,’” she wrote in her grant proposal.

“By modifying the bleachers to accommodate wheelchairs and by improving the proximity and size of the drop-off and pickup area, it was our objective to improve access and foster a feeling of increased independence,’’ she added.

The modified bleachers, Fox said, also are available to residents and visitors who use the park for special occasions and celebrations.

“Here’s a place where they can come with families for a free show in the park with concessions. It’s like the Interstate with easy on and easy off access. So I want people to know it’s for them and their use,” Fox said.

“I would love to see it filled to capacity each (show) night.’’

Last updated: 2:17 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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