Video of our October 2012 wounded-veteran sailing clinic at South Beach Pier 40 in San Francisco.
In 2013, I will be helping to organize 4 sailing clinics with the purpose of introducing wounded Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans to the sport of sailing. Sailing is a sport which is accessible to anyone; a sport which truly does not care if you have arms or legs. Many of our nation’s wounded service members have suffered great amounts of adversity, leaving them in situations which are truly difficult to cope with. It is because of this that veterans suffer from depression, alcohol and drug abuse and homelessness at an astoundingly high rate. The true aim of this clinic is to inspire these heroic men and women to once again achieve the extraordinary and lead happy, fulfilling lives. Sailing is the tool that we will use.
As a wounded Iraq war veteran and passionate sailor, I am honored to be able to work with Hope for the Warriors® and BAADS (the Bay Area Association of Disabled Sailors) to conduct these two wounded-veteran sailing clinics in San Francisco.
The first two clinics were held in April and October 2012 in San Francisco. The next four clinics will be held in San Francisco and Newport, Rhode Island in the spring and fall. A clinic will potentially be held in Seattle.
Here are a couple of articles that recap our first clinic:
These clinics, and the ones following, are amazing opportunities to re-inspire these heroes that have made great sacrifices in defense of our nation. Introducing these men and women to the sport of sailing serves as a powerful tool to show them that their newfound challenges are not limiting factors and that they are capable of living full, enriching lives. Wounded service members are a group of people that are capable of achieving amazing things. All they need is inspiration. Give a wounded Marine a sailboat and the sky is the limit, I can assure you of that.
Beautiful sunset cruise on San Francisco Bay during clinic #1- April 2012
These clinics are expensive, and our cause is funded entirely by donations. Hope for the Warriors® has earned a four-star rating from Charity Navigator and boasts a 95% fiscal efficiency rate.
To donate to this cause today, visit the following link:
Until we have a proper link set up, please make sure to enter "Ronnie Simpson- Wounded Veteran sailing clinic" in the comments box at the bottom of the page, once you have donated online.
If you are considering donating, please read this testimonial that October 2012 participant and double purple-heart recipient "Doc King" wrote on Charity Navigator, one of the world's leading sites in rating charities and non-profits:
"I was recently honored to attend a Sailing Clinic sponsored by Hope for the Warriors. Ronnie, Don and Walt, along with a host of amazing volunteers, put together one of the most influential weeks of my life. Being introduced to the sailing community in grand style (sailing with 1-1 instruction, watching the America's Cup World Series Regatta from a racing yacht in the San Francisco Bay, accepting the hospitality of Team Oracle) was an experience not to be forgotten. More importantly, being introduced to a sport which seems to have been created to treat PTSD and even out the competitive playing field for almost any disability was inspirational. The clinic was well-organized, yet flexible to accommodate each individual's challenges. Outside activities, including visiting Redwoods, were enjoyed by all and nothing felt like mandatory fun. More important than every good thing I could say about the clinic and how much it benefitted me, the people involved were the absolute salt of the earth. Ronnie Simpson's passion for sailing is only rivaled by his desire to share it with disabled veterans. Don Gray, father to the group, shared his lessons learned as a Vietnam Veteran while keeping the clinic on schedule. Walt Kotecki is one of the most compassionate guys I've ever come across. All the volunteers at BAADS (Bay Area Association of Disabled Sailors) and the sailing instructors showed us nothing but love the entire Clinic. Amazing job by all. Finally, the most inspirational part of my week was spending time with the other participants. The camaraderie and brotherhood that we lose when we transition out of the military is found in the veteran community and organizations like Hope for the Warriors allow us to tap into that source of strength and support. I can't thank you all enough."
-Doc King, October 26, 2012
Massive thanks to everyone who has donated, volunteered their time, or volunteered their services in helping make these clinics a reality. Special thanks to volunteers Walt Kotecki, Aaron Lee, Don Gray, Heather Funkhouser and Tom Watson amongst others. Drew Harper, Garrett Greenhalgh and staff at Spinnaker Sailing and Rendezvous Charters. And to key contributors John Lubimir, Ruben Gabriel, Jeff Thorpe, Scot Tempesta, Annie Ellicott, and many more. And especially the BAADS organization and Jeff Breen. We truly could not do this without your help and use of your adaptive sailing equipment. All of you guys are helping us change lives, so thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Fair winds and following seas,