The 32nd Annual Craig Hospital Hobie Day took place at Cherry Creek Reservoir on Friday, July 28. Starting just after dawn, Craig Hospital staff and volunteers packed up gear for nearly 50 patients with varying degrees of spinal cord and brain injury for a day at Cherry Creek Reservoir. Set-up included special mats, so wheelchairs could be safely maneuvered across the sand to the shade of specially placed canopies. This “army” worked for weeks to plan this annual event to make sure it was a fun and safe trip for patients, away from the confines of the hospital. Behind the scenes, special classes took place at Craig so staff volunteers could be trained in water safety and patient transfer from wheelchairs to boats.
Hobie Day is the largest hospital outing of its kind in the world. This outing provides patients with the opportunity to experience what is possible after catastrophic spinal cord and brain injuries, through “applied therapy.” Along with the boating experience, patients learn to navigate the beach and learn the necessity of taking care of themselves in extended periods of exposure to heat and sun. Accompanied by nurses, therapists and staff from a variety of other departments at Craig, patients are able to test their rehabilitation and self-care skills in real world conditions.
According to Craig President and CEO, Mike Fordyce, “This day is just one example of the caring nature of our committed staff. Our team is so much more than a hospital – we truly care about our patients and rejoice in their accomplishments as they get back to the business of living following a catastrophic injury.”
The event is organized by Hobie Cat Fleet #61, whose captains bring 11 Hobie Cat sailboats, a pontoon boat, and three power boats for the entire day. There are 45 business sponsors who plan, cook and serve the outdoor barbeque of hotdogs and hamburgers. Some people are in charge of hydration, while others run the sunscreen table, and others just make sure everyone is having a good time.
According to one patient, “I never had an opportunity like this before my accident. To think that I could do something like this now…I never would have imagined.”
Empty wheelchairs lined the beach - their occupants traversing the calm waters of Cherry Creek Reservoir. A gentle breeze accompanied them while the live band provided a perfect soundtrack to a beautiful day.