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

Recently injured veterans heal at Summer Sports Clinic

San Diego’s Challenged America therapeutic sailing program has a long history of healing veterans, both recently injured from combat and those acquiring a disability from other causes. And at this year’s 4th National Veterans Summer Sports Clinic, September 18 to 23, from San Diego’s Marriott Marquis Hotel & Marina, 130 recently injured veterans will experience the healing powers of the ocean as they sail with Challenged America in San Diego’s Big Bay.

The Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA’s) newest national program, the Summer Sports Clinic (SSC) promotes rehabilitation of body and spirit by teaching summer sporting activities to veterans with significant physical or psychological impairments. The Clinic offers such sports as sailing, surfing, kayaking, track and field and cycling to these veterans who are newly injured from amputation, traumatic brain injuries (TBI), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), blindness, spinal cord injuries or disease, and other neurological disorders, all benefiting from the therapeutic environment offered at the Clinic.

“When we first proposed a Summer Sports Clinic to the VA in 1996, those involved with VA sports therapy excitedly endorsed it. But I knew we then needed to convince those in Washington, DC, that it was a valuable asset, and complimented the already successful Winter Sports Clinic held each year in Colorado,” says Urban Miyares, blinded Vietnam veteran and co-founder of the Challenged America program. “It took years before Washington, DC, agreed. After all, Challenged America has been providing successful water-sports activities for therapeutic purposes to severely and catastrophically disabled veterans for more than 30 years , and today’s VA Summer Sports Clinic is but an extension of an already successful San Diego-based charitable program matching the VA’s goals.”

The week-long event, based from the Marriott Marquis, will attract more than 400 people, to include 130 recently injured veterans, their families, personnel and officials from the VA,, political figures and others from local and federal agencies, celebrities, sponsors, and volunteers, most coming from around the nation. All with be participating in or watching the many sporting venues, such as sailing on San Diego’s Big Bay in Challenged America’s fleet of two-person, 16-foot (adaptive) sailboats, and aboard Sail USA-11’s America’s Cup yacht; kayaking on Mission Bay; surfing at La Jolla Shores; cycling and rock climbing (wall) on Coronado; and experience track and field at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista.

“It’s going to be a busy week of introducing these veterans and their loved ones to sporting activities they should be able to participate in, when they return home. After all, sports is a tremendous rehabilitative activity that has proven to be key to heal one’s body and mind. Challenged America was started in 1978 by disabled veterans as a self-directed therapeutic program. And today, most of Challenged America’s participants and volunteers are veterans, many having combat-experience and disabilities. The VA’s Summer Sports Clinic and Challenged America is a prime example of ‘veterans helping and healing with fellow veterans’,” says Miyares.

Founded in 1978 by San Diego disabled veterans, Challenged America is a year-round, therapeutic (adaptive) sailing program for disabled veterans, youth and adults with disabilities, based at Shelter Island, San Diego. Hundreds from around the nation and the world sail with the volunteer-driven, charitable, program.

For additional information, contact

Urban Miyares, Challenged America
2240 Shelter Island Drive, Suite 108
San Diego, CA 92106
phone 619-523-9318
or visit