My husband as a child discovered sailing by accident. His family has moved to Canada as part of his father’s teaching exchange program, and while he was biking during summer break, saw a sailing lesson occurring nearby. He approached the instructor and made a deal in exchange for learning to sail, he’d help set up and clean up after the lesson. His love of sailing took hold and is going strong to this day.
His family moved back to the United States and immediately after high school, my husband enlisted in the Marines, becoming a part of the air wing at El Toro airbase on C-130’s. After serving in Desert Shield and leaving military life, he moved back to where his parents lived in North Carolina, where he joined a crew racing J boats and playing semi-pro soccer. After a career ending knee injury years later, he opted to rejoin his mother, who had moved back to Wisconsin – where we lives begun together 20 years ago.
Little did I know what I getting pulled into, sometimes kicking and screaming along the way. We became involved the Hoofer sailing group with the University of Wisconsin, racing an E Scow for a few years and then got a boat of our own, I-505 and campaigned it, even taking part in a regatta with the Indiana University (with stories about outracing a tornado after a race on Lake Mendota, snapping a stay and limping back to dock without losing the mast, standing on the side and just catching it to right the boat when a wind gust caught us by surprise and not catching the side stay release in time, the panic of thinking we lost our trailer boat after waking up on an overnight drive to Indiana).
In 2006 we started our family so I was not longer able to crew on a racing boat, however that never stopped my husband. He then volunteered – starting a high school youth racing program (MYST – Milwaukee Youth Sailing Teams), co-oping with 11 high schools in the greater Milwaukee area, bringing in the Milwaukee and Pewaukee yacht clubs to loan boats and allow usage of their facilities (and my poor Jeep commandeered for it’s towing ability). What started with 4 kids grew to around 50 and 3 years after it’s start, two teams went down to the nationals in New Orleans and brought home two second places. Eventually our family grew and the MYST program had taken on a staff, so he stepped away and become involved in race committee for Racine Yacht Club when we moved to the Southern Wisconsin.
Fast forward to 4 years ago, my husband had a stroke that was just the hint of things to come for his health. We are struggling while waiting for disability to go through it’s long process and find ourselves in need. We’re hoping you can help spread our message and donate if your able to allow us to keep going.
Our donation link is here. Thank you for all your help. – Stephanie Gruchow.