Judy Myers, my mentor and inspiration who got me back on the water, asked me if she could do a guest post for the blog. This post made me cry. Thank you, Judy. You’re awesome and you ROCK!
Karen Putz first contacted me last spring when she saw a video of me barefoot waterskiing on MSNBC’s Fit To Boom series.She explained that she had barefoot waterskied years before and had taken a fall, which caused her to lose her hearing. This is not the usual result of a barefoot fall, but rather the result of a deaf gene that runs in her family and causes deafness from a hard hit.On her 44th birthday, she was feeling very down about the fact she had given up barefooting after becoming deaf and felt just maybe she could try it again.She told me that I was somewhat of an inspiration if I could barefoot at 67 then she certainly could try again.
I convinced Karen to come down to the World Barefoot Center, in Winter Haven, Florida to ski with me and be instructed by Keith St. Onge, the current barefoot waterski World Champion at that time.She agreed and we arranged for her to come down in March.I must admit that Keith and I were a bit apprehensive about trying to teach a deaf woman how to barefoot.How would we communicate? What if she could not understand us?What if she fell and hurt herself what were we to do?
Karen arrived, and what a positive, delightful person she was to work with.She made us feel completely at ease and “listened” well with her skill at lip reading.
From this first moment, we developed a relationship that has turned into a great friendship. After skiing together with some other “older” barefooting gals, we decided to all head to the World Barefoot Center and hold a Women’s Week for “older” female barefooters.This past week we had fifteen women skiers—twelve of them were over the age of 40,and four of us over the age of 60.What fun we had!
My purpose for asking Karen to let me write this for her blog was to tell you what Karen has taught me.
She always holds me up as a mentor, but let me tell you, this fantastic woman is my mentor.She has taught me more about overcoming obstacles and facing life head on than anyone I know.Her ability to laugh at herself and make light of her deafness puts everyone around her at ease. She is straightforward and explains to us what we need to do to help her. She has taught me not only how to converse with others while looking at her so she can be included in the conversations (and trust me she does not miss much) but more than that, she has taught me that I was the “handicapped” one. In the begining I saw her as a person with a disability, rather than a person who can’t hear, but she can accomplish anything she puts her mind to. She is driven to succeed and she does.She has a great outlook on life and brings so much to those she comes in contact with.What an inspiration and role model she is.This is a lesson I can and have brought into my own life.
What a remarkable woman, friend and barefooter!!
Karen you are AWESOME and you ROCK.Thank you for all that you have given me!!
Judy Myers, aka “Old Lady”