This story first appeared in the Information Point newsletter Our World in 2010, when Lisa Elliott told us about going parasailing with her daughter Abi.
My daughter Abigail is 10 years old and is diagnosed with centronuclear myopathy. This year while visiting the beach together in Ocean City, Maryland we watched as people went parasailing over the Atlantic Ocean, and thought wow that looks like an awesome experience. We looked into it and discovered that the cost was quite reasonable, there were no major health risks and no minimum age requirement; you just had to be big enough to fit into their smallest harness. We decided to give it a try and Abigail was all for it.
There were five of us all together; me, Abigail, her dad Mark, his brother John, and John’s 9 year old daughter Hannah. We went up as two separate groups. Abi, Mark and I went as a threesome, John and Hannah went as a pair. There were about twelve people making the trip on our boat.
The ride itself was a little nerve wracking for me but Abi was enjoying herself. In the beginning she was whooping and hollering, waving her hands all around and dancing in her seat, but by the time we went through the inlet and out into the ocean she was feeling a tad bit queasy in the stomach. She slowly got quieter and quieter but handled the queasiness quite well.
We were the second to last group to actually do the parasailing, which was nice as we did not have a long wait before we returned to the boat dock. The men that were running the excursion knew in advance that Abigail would need assistance getting to the back of the boat. It is quite hard for a normal person to walk on a boat that is drifting on the waves in the ocean, pretty impossible for a ten year old with CNM. Abi was a little freaked out when she actually had to walk back there but was able to get to the back by walking on her knees with the assistance of her uncle, father and the man running the excursion.
Then we were all hooked up to the parachute. They hook your harness up and you just sit down on the back of the boat. The captain then starts to drive the boat at a pretty high rate of speed while letting out the line for the parachute. As it catches air you just slowly start to lift up. You don’t really need to do anything! The harness fits around your waist and just above your knees, so you feel like you are sitting in a chair. You don’t even need to hold on, but of course Mark had a grip on Abi’s arm the whole time.
We were in the air for about 15 minutes and it just felt like you were rocking in a rocking chair. The view from 400 feet up was beautiful; we could see a group of dolphins playing in the water and it was really neat to be able to look out over all the hotels and houses on the beach and see the bay on the other side. And while we were in the air Abi felt no more queasiness! She even let go to wave to the people on the boat. What a brave girl she is! She really loved it and wants to do it again next year.
I am just glad that we were all able to share such a beautiful experience together and that we were lucky enough to be able to make this possible for Abi.