SAN DIEGO — When life challenges you with adversity, sometimes it's best to leave all of your worries behind. In this Zevely Zone, I went to the Sunroad Resort Marina on Harbor Island to meet the non-profit organization called Challenged Sailors San Diego. Challenged Sailors San Diego was founded by a group of disabled sailors and volunteers who have been involved in adaptive sailing for many years. Inside each boat is a disabled sailor and a volunteer sailing partner.
It's because the people you are about to meet are so courageous, this story starts with a them limping and wheeling themselves down a dock where they struggle, scooch and hoist themselves into boats to set sail. "Looks like we are going," says one sailor with a big smile. At the helm of the first boat is Sue Taetzsch. She is a cancer survivor who is deaf and fighting Multiple Sclerosis, yet here she is sailing her own boat. "They are racing and sailing just like anyone else and they have total control of the boat," says Craig Dennis. He is our guide today as we head out into the bay with the Challenged Sailors.
What better city to learn how to sail than San Diego, after all it's a Navy town?A fleet of six boats are sailing pass the beautiful San Diego Skyline which Tamara Airhart can't see. "I feel like I am anybody else," says Tamara. She is legally blind. She can't swim, yet here she is racing Steve Muse over there in his boat.
Steve crashed a truck and lost the use of his legs. "I cried every day. I felt so sorry for my self," says Steve. What he found on the water saved his life. "Coming out here it was wonderful, I was hooked the first time." Steve is sailing with his wife Jennifer and those are not 'Sweet Nothings' she's whispering in his ear. "Here comes Judy. She is going to pass us. What are you doing wrong? Tighten up your sail. Let's get moving," says Jennifer with a big smile.
One boat over, Judy Kowalesky says passing Steve is the easy part, but battling cancer, depression and a spinal chord injury almost capsized her spirit. "I got out on the water and within 30 seconds I said this is it and I would give up being able bodied if it meant that meant no sailing in my life. I love it," said Judy.
On land, they're challenged by their disabilities, but out here, it's 'Victory at Sea'.
What does Challenged Sailors San Diego need? In short, they need everything. They are new and are actively looking for partners, sponsors, volunteers, sailors, and community support.
The Challenged Sailors range in age from five years old up to ninety three years old. If you'd like to participate as a sailor, volunteer or support the program with a donation go to their website.