When I was growing up, Cozad, NE had a fantastic rollerskating rink. There were numbers painted on the wall to play the dice game. Four poles stood in the middle of the rink, perfect for swinging around. And most importantly, there was a silver disco ball that was in the middle for “couples skate” when the rink got dark! It was a good Saturday afternoon when my mom would take us to the rink. I had one of my birthday parties there, and I know that I went to several more over the years. So when Alexis was invited to a skating party, for a second, I was super excited!

When that second of excitement was over, I was a little panicked and started down my usual checklist of how we were going to make this happen.

1. She can’t wear her braces with skates.

2. She doesn’t stand very well without her braces on.

3. If she can’t hardly stand, she’s not going to be able to move.

4. Her legs don’t bend normal, with or without braces.

5. Her feet can’t move in a side to side motion.

6. Sounds like regular skating is out, is there adaptive equipment out there?

7. I’ve got a week to figure this out, I need to do it now incase we need to order something.

8. I better call the skating rink first. 

After I had that conversation in my head, I ran it by Brandon and then my mom. Then I tried to sneakily talk Alexis out of going…that was clearly NOT going to happen.

The next day my mom (who is a para at Alexis’ school) was at the lunch table with Alexis and a few of girls who were going to the  party. The question was asked about how Alexis was going to skate. What happened next is that a 7-year-old had a genius idea. Alexis’ friend said that we should bring Alexis’ wheelchair and let her wear skates and drag her feet on the ground while someone pushes her. My mom came back, and told me about the conversation, and I was SOLD! I called the Skate Zone and they said that it would be fine.

When we showed up at the skating party, I mentioned the idea to Alexis’ friend’s mom (the girl who came up with the idea at the lunch table). Her mom was a little surprised, but said it was probably from watching the olympics on television and some of the features that they were doing on adapting sports for people with disabilities. 

For the most part, it worked out well. Alexis really enjoyed herself at the beginning. A lot of the girls had not skated before, so they had a good time holding on to Alexis’ chair for some extra balance. Eventually, Alexis wanted to skate like everyone else. Brandon and I took her braces off, put some skates on her, and gave it a shot. We made it about 30 feet, and Brandon held about 90 percent of her body weight. I think she eventually gave in when I was reciting therapy commands like, “Turn your back muscles on.”, “You need to use your core.”, “Don’t drag your right foot.”

We finally settled on her being back in her wheelchair, and Brandon pushing her in small circles in the middle where the strobe light was at. She did “couples skate”, “girls skate”, and then Brandon finally drew the line at “backwards skate.” However, I did give him Father of the Year for participating in the Limbo with the wheelchair.

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At the end of the day, she had a good time. She mentioned that she would like to have her birthday party there next year. 

Seriously, the kid clearly has no limits!


Tiffany Verzal

Tiffany Verzal was raised in rural Nebraska, and now lives in Lincoln, Nebraska with her husband Brandon and daughter Alexis (9) and Abby (2). In 2008, Alexis (then 14-months-old) was the victim of shaken baby syndrome at the hands of her daycare provider in Texas. Alexis suffered severe brain damage and has spent over 2000 hours in rehabilitation since her injury. Tiffany continues to raise awareness for traumatic brain injury, shaken baby syndrome and child abuse. Brandon and Tiffany serve as members on Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital’s Board of Trustees. Brandon is currently the Chairman of the Nebraska Child Abuse Prevention Fund Board.