NEWARK, Del. (CBS) — When a Delaware athlete became a paraplegic, she thought her athletic days were over. They weren’t. She is blazing a path for others, too.
The water’s fine at the Bob Carpenter Sport Center at the University of Delaware in Newark.
“It’s easier to exercise in the pool than on the ground,” said Linda Sieber.
Linda has MS. It has taken her ability to walk, but not her ability to work out with help from sophomore volunteer Julia DeCecco.
Julia helps Linda “walk in the pool and achieve better balance, maybe do some things with dumbbells in the water.”
In a nearby workout room, Carol Gajewski is doing lat pulldowns with junior Chynna Booker-Gibbs.
Carol has MS, so “Chynna will help me with my grip on the bar,” Carol said.
Chynna is Carol’s assistant and a cheerleader. “If I can see she’s getting stronger, I tell her, ‘You can do one more rep, one more set,'” Chynna said.
Both the weight training and the swim class were created by Yes U Can, a Delaware non-profit that makes recreation available to anyone with a physical limitation. Co-founder Vickie George helped get this all rolling.
“I was an exceptional athlete,” until Vickie developed progressive MS 20 years ago. A friend found out the University of Delaware was teaching adaptive sports, and Vickie discovered she could lift and pull.
She “started to work with one of the students. When we realized what we could do, we both cried. My muscles were active,” Vickie said.
She realized other disabled people could be active, too. Over the past 11 years, Yes U Can has developed an ever-expanding roster of adaptive sports classes, and they’re free.
“I love this program,” Carol said. “Not only do I get to come here and work one-on-one, it’s great to be able to get out and interact with other people.”
Vickie says there’s a huge demand for the program, and it needs more donations and volunteers.
“Every time I think i’m just too tired, they bring me around again, because it’s what it has done for them that keeps me going,” Vickie said.
You can reach Yes U Can at www.yesucanusa.org