Challenged America – You Know Us, Don’t You?
We did the TransPac in 2003 and 2005. The crew was disabled. The bow guy was blind.That’s us at the TransPac finish in 2005.
Lost a leg in Iraq and are looking for a new sport? Let us get you on a crew spot on an AC Boat. This is from the 2009 Veterans Summer Sports Clinic. Photo by VA.
We even take middle school kids out on the water for the first time. Creative Performing Arts Middle School.
But who are we really?
Challenged America’s parent foundation is the Disabled Businesspersons Association based in San Diego. The foundations purpose is assisting enterprising individuals with disabilities maximize their potential in the business world, and work with vocational rehabilitation, government and business to encourage the participation and enhance the performance of the disabled in the workforce. Typically our participants are given training in today’s business strategies whereby they can start their own business, become consultants or be hired by an employer. Many of our recent participants are recently injured veterans returning from the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. This training is critical for these veterans to reenter the workforce and pursue a life of fulfillment.
Challenged America itself is the therapeutic sports branch of the foundation. As we all know it’s a given that we feel better about life when participating in a sporting activity we love and so do our participants. When our participants sail they recover faster, their psyche is improved and who doesn’t love being on the water? In 1978 two disabled veterans in wheelchairs were at San Diego’s Mission Bay watching others sail and said: “That looks like fun…and all of them are sitting too. Now, that’s something we should be able to do.” Unable to find a sailing program or school able to accommodate their needs and desire to sail a boat themselves they purchased a Cal 20 sailboat. They invited others with and without disabilities to learn how to sail with them. This was the origin of what we know as Challenged America.
Today, Challenged America attracts the disabled and their loved ones, professionals in sports therapy and recreational rehabilitation, sailing instructors, yacht designers, educators, researchers, innovators, engineers and adaptive technology developers from around the world to San Diego to participate or observe the Challenged America program. Hundreds visit and sail with Challenged America each year.
Challenged America is very different compared to our start in 1978; we have a fleet of Martin 16 sloops specially outfitted for our participants. These boats are used daily for racing or just day sailing allowing our participants easy access to San Diego Bay and the enjoyment we all know sailing can provide. Each boat has a position for a participant and one for an awesome volunteer companion sailor. the picture to the left is from the Veterans Summer Sports Clinic 2009. Photo by Kevin Wixom.
We also have a Capri 22, Beneteau 28, Kiwi 35 and our flagship B’Quest II a Nelson Marek 43 which was graciously donated to the foundation by Brian and Susan Hull. These boats are used for both inshore and offshore racing events for both our participants and companion sailors. On occasion we even have a guest skipper come aboard to raise the bar a notch or two. that’s
Dennis Connor skippering B’Quest II. Photo by Da-Woody
Here’s what Paul Cayard has to say when he was keynote speaker at our recent West Marine / Challenged America Regatta:
I was honored to be the guest speaker at Friday night’s first annual Challenged America Gala dinner sponsored by West Marine. Honored because the mountains I have climbed in sailing are molehills in comparison to what these disabled sailors do!"
President and co-founder of Challenged America Urban Miyares is a Vietnam Vet who lost his eyesight to Agent Orange. He was bowman when Challenged America fielded an entry in both the 2003 and 2005 TransPac!!
The foundation actively operates ten specially equipped Martin 16’s out of Shelter Island in San Diego. Last year they had 1,000 disabled people out sailing. Disabled people who go sailing often say that it is the most therapeutic activity they do. Challenged America also supports research to develop the mechanism that allows the boats to be sailed by disabled sailors. They have a member who can only use his tongue and lips, and he has sailed solo!!
The stories are fascinating and a true testimony to the human spirit, as well as the will to overcome. I was in awe of these people and just honored to be in their company.
Kudos to West Marine for supporting this very worthy cause and all those individuals who have done so much to build Challenged America over the past 31 years.
Over the years the work of Challenged America has touched the lives of many people from all walks of life. Recently Challenged America had the distinct honor to host the sailing venue for the Veterans Summer Sports Clinic where recently disabled veterans come from all over the country to participate in five separate venues during the week. Challenged America worked with the Marriott Hotel and Marina which will be providing the venue for the next five years. Video here.
So why are we telling you about ourselves? Well, we need your help Anarchists. You as a group are one of the most powerful and influential in the sailing community!
Recently I remember reading a forum thread where a disabled sailor was traveling in his car towing his boat up the East Coast in the middle of the night when his trailer broke. Within 2 hours he was rescued, trailer taken to a repair shop and he was put up for the night, all through the efforts of the SA team. You can move mountains and get it done.
Challenged America serves participants from all over the world and we need help from you, the worldwide team Sailing Anarchy. Were asking you Team SA, sailors from around the world to step up to the plate and keep Challenged America serving the people that need our services so much.
With charitable donations down dramatically in this economy Challenged America is in financial need. However at Challenged America as you can imagine no one is a quitter. We have implemented a business plan to open a Used and Surplus Boating Gear and Equipment Outlet in San Diego and we need your donations to fuel the great work that our volunteers do.
We need sailors from every boat, every club, every lake, and every ocean around the world to help us in our endeavor to assist our participants. We need your donations of:
- New, used, surplus boating gear and equipment.
- Boats, working pick up truck, working cube van with lift gate.
- Cash Donations
These donations will keep Challenged America alive and healthy and serving our participants and your participation is simple. If you have any of the items we are in search of let us know. Call or e-mail today, Challenged America is a registered 501.C.3 non profit charitable organization and your donations may be tax deductible.
Call today to keep sailing alive and accessible for everyone.