CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - No sight, no problem.
"Anybody can row, anybody can row," Western Reserve Rowing Association's Scott Labuda reminds anyone who will listen. "We're a very inclusive rowing club, we have visually impaired, veteran programs, we have people rowing that are amputees."
The VIPER team (Visually Impaired People Enjoying Rowing) assembles in the massive WRRA hanger containing dozens of rowing boats along the Cuyahoga River at 1003 British St. in Cleveland. The visually impaired wait for volunteers to escort them outside to the boat.
"Other than helping them get in and out of the boat, there really is no difference," Coach Mark Silverstein said before boarding the coaching boat to yell instructions over the water.
For the visually impaired, though, the opportunity to get out and participate offers more than just exercise opportunities.
"This program is helping me tremendously to let me know there is still passions that I enjoy and love," Rae Covington said.
Veteran rower Caleb McKinsey is happy to be back on the water. In 2011 McKinsey rowed for Cleveland State University.
"This is a new challenge for me," first year rower Natassha Ricks said. "It's very therapeutic, gives you a sense of accomplishment, being able to do something sighted people do. I like being able to have that feeling of empowerment."
The adaptive rowing program allows new and experienced adult rowers with disabilities the opportunity to participate and compete.