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Brush Pilots take special education students for a spin

Pequot Lakes special education students hold onto each other as they prepare to go on a snowmobile ride Wednesday, Feb. 13, on Sibley Lake. Erin Bormett / Echo Journal 1 / 6
Four special education students pile onto the sled behind a Brush Pilots member for a trail ride Wednesday, Feb. 13, on Sibley Lake. Erin Bormett / Echo Journal 2 / 6
Brush Pilot Robert Engholm helps Alexis Beier into a hitched sled for a trail ride Wednesday, Feb. 13, on Sibley Lake. Erin Bormett / Echo Journal 3 / 6
A member of the Brush Pilots gets a thumbs-up from a Pequot Lakes student signifying that they are ready to go on a trail ride Wednesday, Feb. 13, on Sibley Lake. Erin Bormett / Echo Journal 4 / 6
Vanessa Olson smiles and laughs upon returning from a snowmobile trail ride with the Brush Pilots on Wednesday, Feb. 13, on Sibley Lake. Erin Bormett / Echo Journal 5 / 6
Paraprofessional Leila Carlson helps Abbey Nelson into a helmet before taking a snowmobile ride Wednesday, Feb. 13, on Sibley Lake. Erin Bormett / Echo Journal 6 / 6

The Pequot Lakes Brush Pilots snowmobile club hit the trails with Pequot Lakes High School special education students Wednesday, Feb. 13, on Sibley Lake for a snowmobiling field trip.

Roughly a dozen students took turns holding onto the backs of the Brush Pilot drivers or hopping into sleds towed behind the snowmobiles for short rides on the trails.

"It was really fun," said Kayla Thompson, one of the students. "I was really excited about it, not only for me, but for everyone else too. I feel like they're having a really good time getting outside and getting out of school."

This was Thompson's first time on a snowmobile. After taking a few turns, she said she would like to try snowmobiling again as a fun way to get outside during the winter.

"To me, this is what's snowmobiling is about - being with the kids, teaching them a little, and just enjoying life," said Craig Baker, a member of the Brush Pilots. "Look at these kids, they're all ready to go again!"

Baker said the Brush Pilots and the school tried to organize this trip last year, but the weather didn't cooperate. This year, the snow was abundant and the sun was shining, a perfect day to be out on the trails.

Desera Engholm, a senior at Pequot Lakes High School and recipient of the 2018 Young Snowmobiler of the Year award, helped orchestrate the event because she had connections with both the school and the snowmobile club.

"I've been working with Special Olympics for a while, and had the idea of doing snowmobiling because we go to Camp Confidence, and (the students) like the snowmobiling there, but they wanted to do a lot more," she said. "Honestly, it feels so great seeing the kids smile.This is the profession I want to go into so it makes me happy."

After all students got a chance to ride the trail as many times as they liked, everyone gathered around for a lunch of freshly grilled hot dogs before returning to school.

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