New Look

With the help of a co-worker, this site is getting an updated look. Clifton M. did not think my retro-blog site would come back into style any time soon.

Now, that the site is updated, even mobile friendly, I will start to add new material and update out-of-date information. Please come back often to see what has changed.

In the meantime, the You Can Help – Donate and 2017 Water Ski Team pages have been updated. So, give them a look and try to wear out the Donate buttons.

U.S. Disabled Team Wins World Title

The U.S. Disabled Water Ski Team won the overall gold medal at the 9th Disabled Water Ski World Championships, Sept. 3-6, in Vichy, France. The United States tallied 9,341.73 points in winning the gold medal for a record fifth time at the biennial event. Italy earned the silver medal with 9,240.23 points and France earned the bronze medal with 5,748.02 points. Australia (5,622.60 points) and Great Britain (4,497.86 points) rounded out the top-five placements in the 18-team field.

2009 Disabled Team
2009 Disabled Team
Standing (left-to-right): Mike Royal, Craig Timm, Katie Mawby, Dr. Keith Barbour and Denise Bowness. Seated (left-to-right): Bill Bowness, Bill Furbish, Jessica Radmilovic, Joe Ray, Daniel Reed and Chad Guzman.

Read entire article at USA Water Ski website.

Happy 4th of July

I know it is well past the 4th, so I wanted to take this opportunity to highlight my happy/busy month.

I was fortunate to ski four World Record Performances and get this site up and running during the month. One of the records was skied on the 4th. Pretty cool stuff.

Yesterday, USA Water Ski featured my pending records and announced the 2009 Water Ski Team page on this site. As a “rookie” member of the 2009 U.S. Disabled Water Ski Team, I wanted to support the Team by developing the donation page. Be sure to check it out and see who will be skiing with me in pursuit of the gold medal.

While you are there, it would be greatly appreciated if you located a Team member in your local city, state or region and click the donate button. I will do my best to represent the skiers located in the Greater Houston, Texas surrounding areas from the South Central Region.

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Story from Anadarko

All Work and No Play Would Make Mike Royal Broke

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Fortunately, my job with Anadarko Petroleum Corporation in The Woodlands, Texas allows me some flexibility to train and the cash flow to compete.  Most of my work can be accomplished using my laptop.  This allows me to arrive late or leave a bit early one day a week to get some water time and make up the hour or two after my children go to bed.  As for the cash, don’t worry, there is still room where You Can Help.

Royal Overcomes Challenges with Blindness

An often-quoted statistic is the 7 of 10 blind people are unemployed.  This fact makes Mike Royal, IT Audit manager, feel very fortunate to have a good job with a great company.  We asked Mike to come up with examples of work-related challenges hard-working disabled person has to overcome.  Following is Mike’s response:

The Challenge of Accepting Blindness

Getting my first Leader Dog not only improved my mobility, it forced me to face the fact I was blind.  The first challenge I faced was getting comfortable with my blindness.  Born with a progressive eye disease, Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP), with first symptoms of “night blindness”, I knew I would be “totally blind” most likely sometime in my 30’s.  It was not until the summer before my last semester of an MBA program that I realized not facing my blindness was limiting me.  I had managed to earn a Bachelor’s of Business Administration degree in 4½ years with a double major in Accounting and Management Information Systems, run 70-plus miles per week training for marathons, and worked virtually full time since my undergrad sophomore summer internship.  While I was “legally blind” during my college years, I could still read normal print and get around fairly well in the day. I went out of my way to hide my blindness and put myself in some dangerous situations by refusing to use a white cane.

The Challenge of Accessing Information

Going from 100 percent sight right out of college to not using any sight now to get work done, I have passed through the magnification, reverse images, large font and fatty pen stages of blindness.  Along this journey, I had to come up with creative solutions and use the right tool at the time to get the job done.  Today, the tools consist of screen reading programs and voice synthesizers on both my laptop and mobile phone.  Other blind specific gadgets are used for reading books, newspapers and taking notes.

The Challenge of Changing Other People’s Perception

About seven years ago, I lost the ability to use any of my vision for functional work.  I decided to take the Certified Internal Auditor exam without using any vision.  At first representatives told me there was no way.  By applying a bit of pressure and agreeing to travel to The Institute of Internal Auditors (The IIA) headquarters in Florida, we jointly came up with a solution allowing me to take the exam.  I sent my screen reading software and was allowed to take the exam on one of The IIA’s computers.

In summary, Mike believes focusing on those things he can do, using tools to come up with creative solutions and refusing to let others determine his limits has helped him overcome blind-related challenges.

Mike Royal and Leader Dog at Anadarko

Special Thanks

Finally, finally, finally…It took me 20 years to make a team that will represent the United States at an international competition. Putting this site together reminded me of the many people that have helped me along the way. A Special thank you goes out to my family and friends for putting up with my never ending need to compete.

As you click through the other pages on this site, you can put some names with faces. For now, let me say thank you to:

My wife Wendy and children Taylor and Eric for all the time spent in the boat and at tournaments.

My sisters Brenda Wander and Angie Miller. It was great having you and your families in Louisiana on July 4 when I broke the world record for the second time.

My parents, Bill and Betty Abell. Mom for always being there for me. Bill for all the miles. Know that all the volunteering you are doing for the United states Association of Blind Athletes, now that you live in Colorado Springs, is appreciated and does make a difference in blind athletes lives.

Bill and Denise Bowness. You guys pop up on many pages and I cannot wait to see how we do in France.

My late father, Marvin Royal, who got me started skiing so many years ago.

I hope you enjoy this site as much as I enjoyed walking down memory lane putting it together.

Mike skiing on his 9900 at the Terramare Ski Lakes on July 25th
Photo courtsey of Kelvin Kelm, www.sportpixusa.net, (c) 2009