Adam Quinn aka Zoom loves to ski....

Adam Quinn is an active 11 year old from Rockford. Maybe “active” is too much of an understatement for Adam – friends have tagged him with the nickname “Zoom” and it seems to fit. This young man has enough energy to power at least part of Al Gore’s compound.
We met Adam on the shore of Murray Lake, which is one of his favorite places to expend energy in the summer months. He was waiting for his turn to water ski as part of the inclusive recreation program offered by the City of Kentwood’s Recreation Department. The waterskiing program is hugely popular and the slots for the six week sessions fill up rapidly, according to Val Romeo, the director of the inclusive program.
Adam has been learning to ski over the last five weeks and from every indication he is having a blast. Randy Hardy, who has volunteered his time and boat to the adaptive ski program for years, has rigged a boom off the side of the boat and Adam is learning the fundamentals of skiing using the boom. The use of the boom saves a lot of time, and drinking of lake water, for new skiers when compared with learning using a tow line. Once Adam was suited up in his life vest and skis, he and Lee Hardy – Randy’s son, got in the water and hung on to the end of the boom. Lee was there to encourage Adam and to keep one hand on the boom with the other hand supporting Adam as the boat took off. Adam remained in a squat until his skis broke water and began to plane, then he would stand up and ski. His grin was huge and he kept looking into the camera and saying, “Cheese” much to all of our amusement.
After several short ski runs, Adam opted to go for a nice ride around the lake on the back of one of the jet skis piloted by a volunteer. In case you have never water-skied, it does provide an excellent workout for your arms and upper body – even a guy named “Zoom” is going to get tired after a while. For the safety of the adaptive skiers, there are always two jet skis with a minimum of three people on them, riding a close distance behind the skier in the event of a fall.
Allan Quinn, Adam’s dad, took quite a bit of his time to praise everyone who helps to make athletic endeavors like water skiing possible for his son. Allan remarked on the patience required for working with athletes who have special needs. In addition to his water skiing efforts, Adam has ridden horses at Equest in Rockford for several years and he likes to swim. For the last two winters he has been involved in a downhill skiing program at Canonsburg with his instructor Gary Hart. He also loves to go on bike rides for ice cream with his family which includes brother Alex, his sister Alysse, and Cindy their mother. The Quinns play basketball together as well.
Allan let us in on a little secret regarding Adam’s snow skiing when he said, “He went over jumps this year and I don’t think he was really supposed to be doing that.”
Adam has autism which can manifest itself in a myriad of ways. Allan told us that it took a while for the doctors to finally conclude that Adam was autistic. When he was very young they were not sure if he would be able to walk or talk, (take if from an eye witness – Zoom doesn’t have any problem with either of those tasks).
Allan explained how working with a child with autism can represent days, weeks, or months spent on simple, repetitive exercises while wondering if anything was making a difference only to have Adam make progress in huge leaps and bounds. Then he told us about how happy he and Cindy were with the Rockford schools and how they work with Adam. The Quinns appreciate the way school administrators have been open to input from them regarding the direction for Adam’s education. At times he has been mainstreamed in school, riding the same buses and taking the same classes as the other kids albeit with individualized help from a teacher’s aid.
This past year Adam has been in a smaller classroom for special needs kids taught by Ian Troop and ridden on a special bus, driven by Ray. Both of these men have done a great job with and for Adam. Ray makes the 45 to 60 minutes spent on his bus a good time for everyone and exhibits a good deal of sensitivity to the needs of each students. Allan spoke highly of teacher Ian Troop as well.
“He is a real enthusiastic, expressive teacher,” he related. “Mr. Troop is very intuitive and interacts very well with the kids.”
If things go as planned, Adam will be a part of Ian Troop’s class again this fall. Allan credited Rockford schools with being willing to “try new things” and explained that sometimes there are as many as 10 people who are working with Adam during the school year. That is one reason why Cindy Quinn quit working so that she could devote more time to helping Adam negotiate his way through school and to allow herself a better opportunity to interact with everyone who comes in contact with him.
For his part, Adam seems to be having a great deal of fun with all of the activities he is involved in. Adam loves to ask questions; in fact he beat us to the reportorial punch by getting his questions out on the table first. He left us with no doubt that this winter will find him back at Canonsburg and there is every indication that Adam will continue to perfect his waterskiing skills next season. We also noticed some interest in the golf program offered at Scott Lake. No doubt Adam “Zoom” Quinn will have a good time swinging a golf club when given the opportunity.
[More information about all of the adaptive sports programs available through Kentwood Parks & Recreation can be found at Kentwood’s website: or by calling Val Romeo’s office at (616) 656-5275.]

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