Honorary Skipper J80 Fun Race 2011

Honorary Skipper J80 Fun Race 2011

…Apparently we were not the only ones who were thankful for the Honorary Skipper J80 Fun Race.  A few thank you letters from the crew on-board Crush came in the mail this week.  Thank you for the illustrations!

Last weekend, I volunteered with the J80 skippers and EYC members to host the 2nd Honorary Skipper J80 Fun Race, which has been set up to coincide with the Leukemia Cup to support The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s mission to “cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s lymphoma and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families.” Local J80s had the wonderful opportunity to take young leukemia patients out with their families for 6 short races on the Bay. The winds were light, perfect for teaching/learning how to sail.

Photo by Sara Proctor

I sailed with Jesse McKnight on Crush. It was our first time sailing in the event, and we had no idea what to expect. Our first stop in the morning was spent setting up the party tent for the Leukemia Cup racers who were further out in the Bay. Everything came together incredibly fast with all the support from EYC volunteers. The patients and their families showed up around 11:00 to meet with the skippers, chow down on burgers and dogs, and find their boats.

Jesse and I were assigned to a family with 3 children; Alec, Alyssa, and Aaron. (It took me a while to remember the names because they all started with A…go figure…you’d think it would have made it easier for me!) The kids were happy and laughing excited for the day. It goes to show how something new and exciting on a sunny day can take the spotlight away from some of life’s bigger, sadder dramas. Aaron, the middle child, was a former leukemia patient who, with the help of his brother Alec, was able to defeat leukemia completely. Alec was the only one in his family that had the perfect bone marrow match for Aaron. He donated his marrow at age 7. Their father told me that the bone marrow transfer is an incredibly painful process, especially for someone under the age of 10. There are heroes at every age. These kids were anything but weak as they pulled the lines and shared their joy with us. Jesse and I were grateful to have them onboard.
Photo by Sara Proctor

All three Aces took turns skippering the races. I’ll say they did a pretty good job considering we won the entire regatta! Wooh! Congratulations go out to the A-team! (‘A’ because of their names…not because of our boat’s victory. Everyone out on the water was a winner at the end of the day.)

The sun and heat were unbearable at times. Thankfully, we had plenty of liquids on board. At one point I was trimming the jib sheets and poking a hole in juice boxes at the same time. Had to stay hydrated!
At the end of the event, each child received a medal for racing with the 80s. I had a wonderful time getting to know Alec, Alyssa, and Aaron and teaching them how to sail. It’s a great event that was inspiring to all people involved. It felt good to give the patients the chance to be out in the elements learning new skills and making new friends. I’m already looking forward to the event next year.
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