Letter To the Pro Ski Tour

The Athletes and a Little Girl who couldn’t stand in line!

To The Pro Water Ski Tour,

My name is Kris Vanden Boom and am an avid water-skier, Husband to my wife Donna, and Father of four beautiful girls. I am writing this first and foremost as a thank you to all those at the Malibu Open that made this a very special event for my family and me. We arrived on Friday afternoon and saw the end of the qualifying round of Slalom and Jump. The kids had a blast and wanted to come back for Saturday’s finals. What was normal was the access we had to the pros that were there. This was completely expected but nonetheless, it was exciting to be so close. What was unexpected was the amazing attention we received as a result of the physical limitations of my daughter McKenzie!

On Saturday, we arrived early to get good seats. We were surrounded by chairs behind and on the sides making it difficult for us to come and go. After the semifinals were done and autograph signing was set up and two of my girls were in line. McKenzie, my other daughter was not able to get in line. You see, she was in her wheel chair and it was tough to get the chair through all the people and even more challenging for her to stand in long lines. That is when I walked up to Debbie Reed (one of the staff members for the pro ski tour) and asked if it would be possible to get a few athletes to come over to where we were sitting and sign McKenzie’s chair.

First, a few skiers that were close by came and signed Kenzie’s chair and spent some time talking to her about adaptive skiing. Among them were Terry Winter, Seth Stisher, Thomas Moore, Billy Susi, Cale Burdick, Jill Knutson (who offers Adaptive Waterskiing back at her school in Lake Stevens, Washington), and others. My mother in law was with us and she was even teary-eyed watching the whole thing. The level of engagement between these athletes and a little girl who couldn’t stand in line was wonderful and had Kenzie grinning from ear to ear. At this time Finals were also getting underway so people flocked to there seats and we were once again surrounded. I was extremely grateful to Debbie and thought that would be it. I had no idea that Debbie was diligently working to get more athletes over to us. One by one they weaved through the people to reach my daughter and give her and us some quality attention. Those around us were somewhat in awe and wonderment as to what was going on. Imagine the looks in there eyes when Marcus Brown made his way to Kenzie, got down, signed the chair, and began talking to us. Grandma had a few more tears. Later it was Chris Rossi signing our Nintendo DS and still later Brooks Wilson tracked us down at the bathrooms (are you kidding me). Seth Stisher set the kids up with H20 Shirts and Jodi Fisher provided Kenzie with a shirt that she has worn 7 out of the last 10 days. These athletes are far more than just accessible at these events. To say that is a complete understatement. Yes they want to promote the sport, product lines, boats, etc… In the end they are far more giving than any other group of athletes I can think of. Try getting this kind of response in the middle of a pro football game or baseball game. I was genuinely impressed by the interest that all of the coaches had around adaptive waterskiing. Seth Stisher, April Coble-Eller, and obviously Jill Knutson were just a few who really seemed interested. I would like to encourage all of the schools in the country to consider offering programs and providing equipment with the support of local therapeutic suppliers.

Finally, there were others signing the DS player and the chair but the final highlight came in the dark with a packed crowd when April Coble-Eller made her way over. She apologized for taking so long. The Malibu Open Women’s Champ, winning her first Major Pro Tournament, celebrating and enjoying the moment, apologized for taking so long!!! She gave almost all of her bracelets to my kids, spent time with McKenzie, shared pictures of her family, and just relaxed with us for a little while!

So, all in all, I would say we are ready for the Malibu Open to come back to Milwaukee next year. Until then, a heart felt thank you to all the athletes, to those who ran the event, Tinus Marine, and especially to Debbie Reed.

The Vanden Boom Family!


Watch the Malibu Open on WebCast-TV

Last Week's Malibu Open from Downtown Milwaukee was on tape delay. So, in case you haven't seen it yet, here it is in all its glory:

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