An accessible boat ramp helps people with disabilities get on the water

CANTON, New York (WWNY) — The feeling of open water can be liberating, but for kayakers with physical disabilities, it can still have some limitations. However, a new accessible boat ramp is helping more people enjoy that feeling of liberation.

Tom Lazore is a member of the Mountain Warriors sledge hockey team in the 10th Mountain Division. Lazore was paralyzed from the waist down in a work accident. He says he loves paddling along the Grasse River in Canton.

“Oh I love it. I love it. We try to kayak a few times a year, then I took a pontoon boat and we go out on the St. Lawrence River with tubes,” he said. declared.

One of the things Lazore found most frustrating about getting on the water was not being able to get into the boat without help from others.

“It was painful because friends and family came to pick me up and physically put me in the kayak, where with this one I can pretty much do it on my own,” he said.

Lazore refers to the adaptive boat launch that was installed last April at Taylor Beach Park in Guangzhou.

The Taylor Beach launch is the first of its kind in the north of the country. It is designed to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The boat ramp was the brainchild of Mark McKenna after he found that many players on the sledge hockey team did not have easy access to water for summer paddle training.

“A lot of guys and girls on our team want independence. They want to be able to do things for themselves. They don’t want help. They just want the freedom, like everyone else, to go out and recreate,” said Mountain Warriors 10th-team coach McKenna.

McKenna says he couldn’t have installed the boat launch without the support of the community, especially Canton leaders and nonprofits such as the Knights of Columbus.

While there are other ADA-compliant accessible boat ramps, the one in Taylor Beach allows people with disabilities to launch themselves into a kayak.

The closest similar to this launch is in Rochester.

In the meantime, Lazore will continue to paddle on water without the limits of what he can do on land.

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