The smile on Andrew Green’s face was matched only by his mother’s.
“It just makes me feel free,” he said. “It makes me feel alive.”
The 23-year old has a form of Cerebral Palsy and has been sailing for five years thanks to a local program called Sailability Greater Tampa Bay.
“I’m sure it does make him feel free. Being out on the water and in nature is a great thing,” said Andrews’s mom, Linda. “Great opportunity for people to leave their chair behind and have adventures.”
Andrew is confined to a powered wheelchair while on land. On the water, he leaves the chair and his worries behind. That’s exactly what Sailability Greater Tampa Bay co-founder Claudia Nable hoped for when she dreamed up the idea back in 2000.
“It’s all about adapting. It’s adaptive sailing. It’s adaptive life,” she said from the dock at the Clearwater Sailing Center. “I’m just doing what people should be doing.”
Andrew was lifted into a small sailboat where Paralympic silver medal sailor Brad Kendell was seated. The duo took off into the open water for a sailing lesson on a calm Clearwater day. Andrew smiled as Brad offered expert advice.
“If I ease the sails, it flattens the boat out,” he said as the two sped across the waves.
According to its website, the purpose behind the Sailability Greater Tampa Bay program “is to provide affordable, accessible, sailing activities and education to children and adults of all abilities, focusing on community integration to improve the quality of life for all involved."
That means getting people out on the water no matter what hinders them on land.
“It’s accomplishing something you never thought you could,” said Nable.
In 2003, the Sailability Greater Tampa Bay program became the first organization to provide sailing instruction to the Special Olympic athletes in the State of Florida. It is a non-profit that operates off donations. The group is always looking for volunteers and sails from Clearwater and Dunedin.
Nable was nominated as an Everyday Hero by Kendell for her work with the disabled community. She serves as the President of Sailability Great Tampa Bay.
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