Challenged America 2015 A New Beginning

Co-Founder Speaks Out: Challenged America 2015 A New Beginning

As we begin the 38th year of Challenged America, we are proud of the many accomplishments made in introducing sailing as a successful therapeutic activity and a stepping-stone for the disabled to [once again] enter into the workplace.

With changing times and the 3 or 4 key Challenged America financial supporters no longer with us (having passed away or now unable to help, due to health), dramatic changes were in order, and the charity’s (Disabled Businesspersons Association) board of directors is currently in the reinventing phase for the Challenged America Program, as well as the four other programs in the charity.

The question posed to the board is:   “If you could start all over again, given what you already know, what would you do differently?”

Experience is a great educator, and having been on the cutting-edge in techniques and practices, adaptations and accommodations to equalize – for all – the ability to safely sail and race a vessel independently alongside and against other (able-bodied) sailors, in both small and larger vessels, in inland, coastal and ocean passages, has taught us much. Today, many around the world use the experience and adventures of sailors in the Challenged America Program as their template and protocol.

Right now we’re seeking the donation of a larger offshore sailing yacht, whether classic, racer or racer-cruiser, able to accommodate a crew of 12 to 25 (or more) sailors.

From this donation, the type of educational, team-building and life-enriching adventures will be plotted by the board…to include, but not be limited to having a paid staff, interns, structured educational programs for Program participants, recreational and occupational therapists, educators and other professionals, and loved ones of the disabled

An advisory group, to include DBA board members, will be meeting in the first quarter of 2015 to plot out the future direction for Challenged America, and their resulting recommendations will be posted afterwards.

Do you have any thoughts, suggestions or recommendations to give to this advisory group – related to the mission of increasing the successful workplace outcomes of the disabled, through the Challenged America Program?

Do you know of or have a larger sailing vessel that could satisfy, either immediately or in the very near future, the needs of the Challenged America Program?

Have thoughts of a joint venture or collaboration?

Looking forward to your response and how you can contribute to the new adventures in the Challenged America Program.

Email your questions, comments and suggestions to

Thank You!

3rd Annual Tom Kirwan DASH to Chula Vista Benefiting Challenged America

In spite of the weather, the 3rd Annual Tom Kirwan DASH to Chula Vista Benefiting Challenged America was another success.

Six boats (12 sailors) raced an alternate 6.5nm course under the San Diego Coronado Bay Bridge and back after the first day’s race was cancelled due to high winds.

Sue Taetzsch and John Barba finished first, followed just 17 seconds later by Steve and Jennifer Muse and less than a minute later by Fernanda Castelo and Steve Edenson.

Special thanks to all the sponsors and donors (including Chula Vista Yacht Club and California Yacht Marina – Chula Vista) and especially to the many volunteers who helped make this a successful and fun event

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Reeve Foundation Board Member Rediscovers Her ‘Sea Legs’

When Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation board member Pat Volland was injured in a serious accident five years ago, one of her fears was that she would never be able to sail again. Pat and her husband Bob had long raced a 40-foot yacht out of Annapolis, Maryland; in fact they had spent much of their lives together on the open sea. But due to the nature of her injuries, it was far from certain that she’d ever captain a boat once more.

Vollands sailing with Challenged America

Then, last November, on a trip out to San Diego, the Vollands became acquainted with Reeve Foundation Quality of Life past grantee Challenged America, a unique organization that has offered adaptive and therapeutic sailing since 1978. Learning that she could actually sail again, and not merely ride as a passenger, Pat got into a boat for the first time since her accident.

“What an incredible feeling to be out on the water again, and in control,” she says.

Pat’s maiden voyage was with Challenged America volunteer Doug Shaw (each boat requires that a person with disability sail with one of the organization’s volunteers, for safety reasons.) Her particular boat was equipped with a Power Assist unit and joystick controller that allowed Pat to steer and also trim the sails. “It was such a confidence booster to be in charge,” she says.

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