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Living with a Disability and Enjoying Every Minute of Life

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RALEIGH — TheSpecial Olympics World Summer Gamesshowed us that people with disabilities are capable of great things.

But it is the things we take for granted that sometimes bring the greatest satisfaction, fun activities like water skiing and bowling.

A group of Raleigh bowlers and a young skier want to teach you that living with a disability does not mean life has to be boring. These are their stories, in their own words:

"I lost my sight when I was 13 to glaucoma, and that hasn't stopped me from enjoying life one bit," says bowler James Benton.

"These guys don't pay any attention to the fact that they're visually impaired, they're just out here to have a good time," says Ginger Rush, whose husband, Mike, enjoys to bowl even though he is blind.

"The only adaptation required for us to participate in the sport is the bowling rail," Benton said. "The rail is placed on the lane and keeps you in line with the gutter, so that you're able to place your ball in the center of the lane. You have to learn to bowl based on body positioning."

"Bowling is very much the same whether you're sighted or blind," Rush said. "You still have to get the ball down there and knock the pins down."

"He's 5 years old and has cerebral palsy," said Sid Carpenter, who took his son, Matthew, skiing at Lake Norman. "It's rare to find things that work for our Matthew -- he loves outdoors, he loves sports, he loves water and we got them all together today in a very special way."

"Maybe we have a disability, but it's not the end of the world -- there's still a lot we can do and accomplish, and have fun," said Jeff Bradford, a paraplegic who organized and ran the skiing clinic.

"That's what life's all about," Benton said. "People like to get out and experience things, visit places, do new things and meet new people, and recreation is a means by which you can do that."

"Never allow your disability to be a stumbling block to your future, if you do you can't enjoy your life. Accept who you are and what you are and move forward and enjoy the person that you can be, regardless of your disability," Benton said.

Benton is a Friday night regular with the Raleigh Outlaws -- the largest blind bowling league in the country. People with disabilities also regularly take part in rock climbing, white-water rafting, sailing and canoeing, basketball and softball with a ball that beeps.