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Challenged America faces toughest challenge

by Challenged America on 7 Sep 2005
After just completing a most successful Transpac Yacht Race to Hawaii, and a record number of people with disabilities requesting sailing lessons in the coming months, the San Diego-based Challenged America program had to lower the sails on its fleet of sailboats to restructure the program, so to best meet the financial demands projected for the coming year(s), according to Urban Miyares, Challenged America co-founder.

‘We just had to stop everything, take a hiatus and step back and see 'where we are', 'where we are going' and identify 'how we are going to pay for it',’said Urban Miyares, disabled Vietnam veteran and director of the program's charity. ‘We've never been busier with requests by the disabled to go sailing. But with charitable contributions and donations decreasing in the past couple of years, and the escalating operating costs to serve the larger numbers of kids and adults with disabilities wanting to sail at Challenged America, we just need to catch up with current bills, and restructure a more effective fiscal and management strategy to accommodate the tremendous growth in the Challenged America program. Seems like we've become a victim of our own success, and a new business management style and direction is in order.’

For more than 25 years the volunteer-based Challenged America program has been providing free learn-to-sail and advanced sailing opportunities to kids, adults and seniors with disabilities, their loved ones, and professionals in recreational rehabilitation and sports therapy. Founded by disabled veterans in the late 1970's, Challenged America has established itself as one of North America's largest therapeutic adaptive-sailing programs for the disabled, and a pioneer in innovative product designs and sailing practices, especially for those with the most severe and catastrophic of disabilities. Each year hundreds participate in Challenged America programs, coming from throughout California and the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Europe, and Japan. Sailors from the Challenged America program recently competed in the prestigious Transpac Yacht Race to Hawaii (finishing fourth in its division), and at racing events in Chicago (Independence Cup) and Canada (Mobility Cup -- with a first and third place finish). The Challenged America fleet of 12 sailboats (all being donated or gifted) include Martin 16's, Stars, Luders, Etchells, and a Tripp 40, all berthed on Shelter Island, San Diego. The Challenged America story and its accomplishments have been featured in international print and broadcast mediums, to include winner of the A&E Network National CityVideo Awards (EMMY nominated), documentaries by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, the ESPN2 2003 Transpac television special, and others.

‘During this hiatus period to restructure, we're closing the Challenged America Clubhouse office, moving the program to the charity's main office in San Diego, but keeping all our boats at the dock on Shelter Island. Lowering our overhead at this time is critical, until new funding sources are identified and a direction for the program is established,’ Miyares said. ‘Leaving the disabled at the dock, during this restructuring period, breaks everyone's heart. But making sure Challenged America can financially meet the demands of the future is critical for the program and those we are dedicated to serve. We urgently need leaders in the community to come forward, including our supporters and sponsors, to help us with financial assistance and guidance on how best to restructure this highly visible and recognized program, so we can re-launch Challenged America on or before January 1, 2006, and put even more people with disabilities back on the water, with new wind in the program's sails.’

Challenged America will continue its administrative and charitable fundraising activities during the restructuring phase, with a focus to:

1. Seek volunteer leaders from the community to assist and advise on the re-structuring of Challenged America,.

2. Identify new sources of financial assistance to support the continuation of the program.

3. Explore all options to relocate the Challenged America program, such as in a yacht club or other facility.

For additional information on how you, your club or company can assist Challenged America in its restructuring plan, make a tax-deductible contribution or vessel donation, contact Urban Miyares, Challenged America 3590 Camino del Rio North, San Diego, CA 92108-1716. telephone (619) 594-8805, or email Port@ChallengedAmerica.org

Editor's note: Sail-World.com is a proud sponsor of Challenged America. Please dig deep into your heart and pocket for this wonderful organization! You can donate today by visiting www.challengedamerica.org
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