Rio Olympics: Health Concerns for Disabled Sailors?

Rio Olympics: Health Concerns for Disabled Sailors? Should athletes be concerned

Commentary: Concern of Athletes at 2016 Rio Olympics-Paralympics.

By Urban Miyares, Co-Founder, Challenged America Program

For athletes there is no question being invited to compete and represent their countries at the Olympics/Paralympics is not only an honor and privilege, but also a testimony to their hard work to achieve excellence. However, in the upcoming 2016 Summer Olympics & Paralympics, I have concern about the health and well-being of the athletes with the reports of pollution and contamination of the waters sailors will be competing in.

Having not read any reports, on the medical side, of health dangers for competing in Rio waters, it has prompted me to write about this concern in hope those in the medical profession will make comment, and to bring public awareness to this matter.

Many people with and without disabilities have compromised immune systems, often triggered by injury, disease, medical procedures and medications. Most are aware of their restrictions and need to avoid contact with or consumption of many types of foods and liquids, as well as other contaminates that are in water, soil and even the air. Others, including athletes, may not know of their restrictions or even realize they have a compromised immune system until a health crisis arises.

As a person with a disability and having a compromised immune system, if I were fortunate to be considered a member of the U.S. Olympics/Paralympics Team in sailing, as an example, I would have to decline my Team position due to medical concern.

Such damage to a person’s health, with a compromised immune system, can create an immediate medical emergency, with devastating effect, and also initiate or trigger a medical condition that may not be detected until month or even years later.

It is with this that I hope the U.S. Olympic Team and that of the other countries sending athletes to Rio publicly recognize this problem, and provide a medical assurance that competing (in the sailing venues) is safe during the games and will not affect their medical condition afterwards.

Let me know your thoughts and opinion.

Making Your Vessel Accessible for the Disabled

Making Your Vessel Accessible for the Disabled
By Urban Miyares, Co-Founder, Challenged America Program

“Urban – My wife now has MS and uses a wheelchair. How can I make our 30 foot sailboat more wheelchair friendly so she can continue to be active as crew and enjoy being on the water? Jim L.”

Over the years we’ve received many such requests, from both sail and power boat owners wanting to make their vessels more accessible and accommodating for themselves and others with disabilities. As a matter of fact, just in the past couple of weeks I’ve had 3 such requests – which prompted me to write this blog.

If you have a physical, mobility or sensory challenge (whether permanent or temporary) or diagnosed with a hidden medical condition, you’ll immediately discover how unfriendly most boats are. Their design is not accommodating to the disabled. However you can make your sail or power boat more welcoming and comfortable to crew members and passengers with impairments.
Following is but a beginning outline to help guide you in making your vessel more accessible to those with physical challenges. Continue reading

Steve Muse, Victory of Spirit

An inspiring story, I have know Steve Muse for a few years now, I met him and Jennifer as a volunteer and photographer at Challenged America, I did not know the whole story until now, just bits and pieces.

When I was in the hospital a year and a half ago with the real possibility of losing my leg, Steve Muse and other Challenged America participants, Wounded Warriors were the inspiration that helped me keep positive during my stay, through my surgeries and year long recovery.

Steve loaned me one of his wheelchairs, set it up for me and gave me a form of mobility I did not have and I gained a whole new level of admiration for what he had and was achieving and gave me the strength to push my rehabilitation through the pain, through the ups and down.

Watch his story and if you are not inspired, nothing will.

Thanks Steve for everything, you will never know how big a part you played in my recovery, you are an inspiration..

Philippe Gadeyne

Steve Muse, Victory of Spirit

MS Does Not Slow Challenged America Sailors

Another Excellent Sailor at Challenged America, meet Eric!

The son of a salesman and bookkeeper, Eric Brand was born in Tarzana, a suburb of the San Fernando Valley located to the northwest of Los Angeles.  As a teen, he attended Taft High School in neighboring Woodland Hills. Reaching college age Eric matriculated to Cal State University Northridge where he studied a varied of subjects unsure, at the time, of what discipline would pique his interest.  Being a sports enthusiast, however, he did play volleyball.  But like many, Eric always wanted to venture south to surf on San Diego’s pristine beaches, a dream which reached fruition when he came to study in our local colleges.


After arriving in the sunny southland in 1981, Eric attended SDSU. During his sojourn as an undergrad, he took a year to head farther south, where he attended two semesters of classes in Guadalajara, Mexico. There, Eric focused on improving his Spanish fluency.  He then backtracked north, to the land of the gringo, where he worked a year clerking for Michael Dodge, a local bankruptcy attorney.  Having found that the study of law was the subject that stoked Eric’s fires, it was in 1986 that he set his sights on Pepperdine Law School in the sage covered mountains overlooking Malibu.  After graduating from Pepperdine, the new graduate remained local for his first real job, a deputy public defender for the County of Los Angeles.

As 1994 dawned, Eric once again set his sights on a return to America’s Finest City.  Transferring to San Diego as an alternate public defender he was again jazzed to settle in the land of sun and surf.  It was at that time that mild symptoms of a disabling disease began to molest Eric. It was just before his transfer in 1994 that he went to seek medical aid, curious as to what was causing his nascent symptoms. Soon thereafter, he was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.  Continue reading