NEWPORT, R.I. (WPRI) — Sailing is an activity that is prevailing during the pandemic, since so many others are limited or closed altogether.
That’s especially important for people of differing abilities.
Through Sail to Prevail, modified sailboats give people of all ages, mental and physical abilities a chance to sail Narragansett bay without limits.
“It means a lot to them,” said Mo Faye of the Fogarty Center. “Before this program started, our guys never had a chance to sail.”
From cancer patients to people with autism to disabled veterans, the nonprofit allows nearly 1,000 people to sail out of Fort Adams every year.
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Sail to Prevail offers two-hour lessons six days a week throughout the summer, which is made possible through donations from the community.
“We don’t ever want a child or a group to not come sailing because they can’t afford it,” CEO Paul Callahan said. “We will always find a way that will make that work.”
The story behind the program’s success is equally as incredible.
“I broke my neck when I was 21 years old and I’ve gone on to graduate from Harvard College and Harvard Business School and worked in New York City at Goldman Sachs, and it wasn’t fulfilling enough for me,” Callahan said.
He said the injury changed his life forever, but sailing while on vacation in Newport gave it purpose.
“Someone asked me if I wanted to go sailing and I thought that maybe they didn’t have the right match,” he recalled.
Callahan went on to sail in the Paralympics in 2000 and 2012.
He instilled his love of sailing in his twin 17-year-old boys, who are now sailing world champions themselves. But he says it’s the lessons he’s taught thousands of people through Sail to Prevail that will be his lasting legacy.
Learn more about Sail to Prevail here.