Hitting the trails in Clay

Snow conditions were just right for the third annual Snowmobile Ride for Children with Special Needs in Clay on Saturday Jan. 29.

The event, hosted by the Clay Recreation Department, attracted over 50 special needs children and their families to the "snowmobile track" behind Clay Town Hall. Participation was up from last year, where about 30 kids attended the event.

"It's an opportunity for these kids to experience the great outdoors," said Rob Bick, town assessor and organizer of the event. "It gives the kids a chance to do something they probably wouldn't otherwise be able to do." Bick started the event nine years ago in St. Lawrence County. This is the fourth year the event has been planned for the greater Syracuse area. The first year, the event was "snowed out" due to lack of snow, Bick said.

The snowmobile event was free to the public and consisted of approximately 12 volunteers giving rides, and donated snowmobiles from the Clay Snow Owls snowmobile club and other local residents. Volunteers were required to have registered and insured two-seater snowmobiles and helmets.

"It's a great event. I've participated every year," said volunteer Jim Horton, vice president of the Snow Owls.

Clay Fire Department donated the use of their emergency sled, which was used for children in wheel chairs and those that may not have been comfortable on the snowmobile.

Lisa Bersani and husband John also volunteered their time and snowmobiles while their son Ryan, 18, who has Down's Syndrome, enjoyed rides from other volunteers.

"I heard about the event through an email and called up right away to help out," she said. "It's an awesome event, taking kids with disabilities and giving them a fun experience. I'm definitely volunteering again next year."

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