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Feeling free, equal thanks to Mary Free Bed's Adaptive Sailing Clinic

Posted at 8:58 PM, Jun 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-11 21:01:12-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — From the deck, you would never know the people aboard have some kind of disability.

"Oh, it brings me back to before I had my stroke and I could go out sailing by myself," says Scott Nauta. He and Tom Ayotte have been sailing before, but the Adaptive Sailing Clinic is allowing them to return to a passion they love.

"And the nice part is the help they keep you safe," says Scott. "Whereas you lose some of that ability that you had from before."

The instructors here are experienced sailors, trained to also help those who need adaptions.

"We have children, we have adults, we have people that have cerebral palsy, autism, amputations, you know, visual impairments, you know, kind of the gamut," says Sports Coordinator Christy Van Haver. "And everybody feels differently, but everyone's equal on the water."

"Equal" is how many participants felt after getting over some of the initial fears when stepping aboard at the Grand Rapids Yacht Club.

"It went away after I was in it for a few minutes," says Brandon Uzarski. "I was like, 'Okay, this is good.' It was very peaceful out there."

The moment made for a proud parent too.

"It's just such a blessing as a parent just to have these things and help them feel like the world fits him instead of not necessarily feeling like you are fitting in and different from people," says Marie Uzarski.

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