Two weeks ago, Clean and Ed put my story — that of an injured vet of the war in Iraq looking for sailing opportunities — on the front page of Sailing Anarchy. True to this great sailing community, I received emails from individuals all over; industry people, avid sailors, and plain old enthusiasts. My story seemed to resonate with a lot of people, and the amount of
supportive messages that I received was completely overwhelming. One of these messages came from a former Marine and Vietnam vet who serves on the board of Hope For The Warriors™ (HFTW), a national non profit dedicated to supporting injured service members and families of the fallen. His boat is named "Warriors Wish" after one of HPTW programs and he felt that perhaps there was a place for me on a team named for the organization. Before I knew it, plans were in motion for me to enter the 2010 Singlehanded Transpac, sailing Warriors Wish, a Jutson 30.
On June 19, 2010, I will leave San Francisco en route to the island of Kauai in the 2010 Singlehanded Transpac as a veteran, racing in a veteran boat owned by a Vietnam veteran. Catchy, isn’t it? My mission to do well in the race will be secondary to working with Hope For The Warriors™ and promoting their worthy cause. As a severely wounded combat veteran who nearly died in Iraq, this is something that I truly believe in. I will be racing not for personal glory, but to honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, while partnering with a national non-profit that works with wounded combat veterans and their families.
The organization’s mission statement is simple: "To improve the quality of life for US Service members and their families who have been adversely affected by combat injuries and/or death, in the line of duty." HFTW offers a wide range of programs for every step of the recovery process, from financial assistance to home remodels, scholarships for spouses and widows, Hope and Morale trips, and professional development training. Team Hope For The Warriors™ even provides support for injured heroes like myself to compete in athletic events across the nation. As you can see, this organization is broad and far-reaching and they do it very efficiently, with 92 cents of every dollar donated going directly to helping the wounded veterans and their families.
As of right now, I have use of Warriors Wish–a boat that has raced two Bermuda 1-2 races and the 2008 Singlehanded Transpac. I will be spending approximately two months on the East Coast working on the boat, before trailering it to San Francisco where I will put it in a slip and begin preparing for my 400+ mile qualifier voyage, the Corinthian Race, the Singlehanded Farallones, and, ultimately, the 2010 Singlehanded Transpac and return voyage home. I will be training with SHTP veterans and many other very experienced sailors. The boat is a solid, well-built, veteran boat, but as with any open ocean race, preparation is key. I still need to find a yard to launch the boat and step the mast and I’m also still looking for a slip for a few months before the race. In addition, I have a life raft to re certify, an epirb to be checked out, will need some help from a sailmaker and the list goes on…
My goal is to raise money for the racing effort by recruiting sponsors and contributors, but more importantly, to also help the organization by raising money for HFTW, which prides itself on giving more than 90% of its donations back to combat wounded veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. Sponsors, financiers and contributors will receive recognition on the Hope For The Warriors™ website, in web coverage, in press releases, through public speaking engagements, solo yacht racing, and other mediums. If you are interested in contributing to our racing project, donating, or would like more information about how you may become a part of this project, please feel free to contact me at [email protected]. Now to go get that boat ready to race! -Ronnie Simpson
And Happy Birthday to all Marines and Happy Veterans Day!