by Peter Jakey–Managing Editor
The Water Warriors embarked on their 27th annual five-day ride from the Mackinac Bridge to Harsens Island.
The first day brought 30 warriors into Rogers City Marina after a turbulent morning along the eastern shore of Lake Huron.
For Mike Boutsikaris of Roseville it was the worst conditions he had ever experienced.
The day started at 7 a.m. with a stop in Cheboygan, before moving on to the Nautical City.
“There was solid 6 to 8 footers,” said chairwoman Ann Plegue, who has been part of 23-consecutive rides. “There was an occasional wave at more than 10 foot. I am riding behind a 52-foot support boat and there are times when all we can see is a radar tower.” She enjoyed the challenge.
Riding the waves was a physical challenge, but most of the participants admit it is nothing compared to the day-to-day of a Special Olympian.
The riders were accompanied by four support boats and a fleet of land support vehicles to make up 75 members strong participating.
Throughout the journey, the group has pre-planned meal and fuel stops. Rogers City welcomed the riders with pizza and ice cream in the pavilion.
“The Water Warriors are really unique in that they are completely driven by the heart. They are doing what they do because they truly care about our athletes,” said Ted Grossnickle, staff liaison. “The athletes love their programs, but they also love interacting with the warriors. They are always excited to run up and greet the warriors as they roll in.”
After Rogers City, it was off to Presque Isle and then an overnight stay in Alpena.
Special Olympics Michigan provides year-round sports’ training and athletic competition for 23,033 children and adults with intellectual disabilities.
Athletes build physical fitness, develop self-confidence and prepare for participation in society.