Cunningham Lake Now Accessible For All

With the nice weather everyone it seems wants to get outdoors.

But some of us are willing but unable to do so.

Now, Cunningham lake near 72nd & I-680 is now available for use by everyone.

John Schuetz just finished a kayak ride on Cunningham Lake.

'The wind took a little bit of a tool but other than that it's great," he said.

It's a trip he never thought he'd be able to take.

John suffered a severe spinal cord injury in a motorcycle accident seven years ago.

"Paralyzed from the chest down,' he said.

John's injuries deny him the opportunity to do something the rest of us take for granted, like go kayaking on a lake.

But unlike the rest of us, John gets a little extra thrill out of the experience.

"This is more recreational and I never thought I'd be able to get back out and do some of that stuff," he said.

John and others with disabilities are now able to use Cunningham Lake thanks to an all access ramp courtesy of Quality Life Inc., a non-profit organization that works with young people who have suffered spinal cord injuries.

Ed Armstrong came up with the design

"This dock here is really the doorway to the lake and it allows that playing field to be equalized and to get people back out," Armstrong said.

Scott Ross and his grandson Keegan come to the lake often.

They like the improvements.

"Making the lake accessible to more people here in Omaha, I think it's fantastic," Ross said.

"It's very uplifting," Armstrong said. "I think it's good for anyone to get outside and to exercise particularly for those going through the rehab process. They need their spirits lifted even more."

John Schuets agrees.

"It's an emotional level that's very high," he said. "It's just great to be back out doing it."

Even though Cunningham Lake is open to the public it will be closed all day this Sunday.

A triathlon is taking place and all roads into the recreational area will be closed for the day.

During the dock dedication ceremony at Cunningham Lake, there was a special presentation to Dave Van Metre.

He received the key to the city from Mayor Jean Stothert.

In addition, new horseshoe pits near the dock are dedicated in honor of Van Metre.

Van Metre has donated more than $30 million to area parks over the years.

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