- Associated Press - Friday, October 17, 2014

MOLINE, Ill. (AP) - Since he was young, Tom Sisson, of East Moline, considered the sport of rowing to be out of his reach. But on Sept. 23 the 72-year-old took to the Mississippi River near the Bass Street Landing and sculled for the first time in his life.

Mr. Sisson’s physical therapists wheeled him onto the dock at the Two Rivers YMCA Rowing Center, 1701 1st Ave., Moline. They helped him into a modified double scull with pontoons - the same boat rowers use to keep from capsizing in the ocean - to keep him stable in the water.

Nicole Taylor, his physical therapist, took the set of oars directly behind him. The two reviewed what Mr. Sisson had learned during his crash course and waited for the all-clear before propelling into Tuesday night’s calm Mississippi water.

About 30 minutes later, he returned to the dock in great spirits.

“It was something that I always wanted to do,” he said.

From the bank, about a dozen of Mr. Sisson’s family members cheered his adventure. His brother, Don Sisson, of Sterling, said he supported his brother when he heard of his interest in learning to scull.

“I said, ‘Go for it, if that’s what you want to do,’” Don Sisson said.

Tanya Braet, Tom Sisson’s occupational therapist, said she and Ms. Taylor knew of his interest in rowing.

The two therapists work for Consonus Healthcare which is contracted for the therapy department at Hope Creek Care Center where Tom Sisson lives. They contacted Two Rivers YMCA Rowing Center and arranged for him to enroll in the adaptive rowing program.

His therapists were pleased with his progress. Ms. Taylor said he picked up on the sport with relative ease. She noted his only prior rowing experience was a day before on an Oarmaster rowing machine.

“At 72 (years old), I hope I’m still rowing,” Ms. Braet said.

Don Sisson said his brother has always had an interest in participating in different sports. Once big into bicycling, Tom Sisson once rode from the Quad-Cities to Sterling on his bike, Don Sisson said of his brother.

“He liked to be in the outdoors, even when he was younger,” said another of Mr. Sisson’s brother, Lloyd.

Tom Sission said that, when he was younger, he became fascinated by rowing. He grew up near the Rock River in the Sterling area and enjoyed being around water - but considered rowing a sport reserved only for the wealthy.

Now, more experienced, he said still sees the value in learning new things to keep him young at heart.

“I think that’s important,” he said Tuesday night, crediting his therapists with making his dream a reality. “You take the opportunities in life and run with them.”

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Source: The (Moline) Dispatch, https://bit.ly/1wdwK7z

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Information from: The Dispatch, https://www.qconline.com

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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