OLPH Students Raise Funds and Spirits for Disabled Sailors
Students at Our Lady of Perpetual Help School in Ellicott City rallied to raise funds for Ya’ Gotta Regatta, The Downtown Sailing Center’s (DSC) Accessible Sailing Program, which offers sailing instruction and access to persons with disabilities. Three Accessible Sailors and the center directors visited the school Thursday, November 15 to express their gratitude, officially accept a check for $1,226.83 at a presentation after an all-school Mass, and announce that their opening day on April 6, 2013 will be named OLPH School Day.
The outreach project was initiated by OLPH sixth-grader, Christopher Butterworth, stating, “My mom and I volunteered for this program, and I quickly realized that once the participants were in their boats sailing, their disabilities seemed to disappear, and they really enjoyed being on the water. I learned so much while sailing with each Accessible Sailor that I wanted them to have the best sailing experience ever. That is why I wanted my friends at OLPH to hold the Ya’ Gotta Regatta fundraiser.” The two-week fundraising campaign, run by OLPH student council, was organized as a competition between grades, of which 7th grade took first place by raising 26% of the donation.
Each of the Accessible Sailors shared inspiring testimony with the crowd of students, teachers, and school parents about what sailing means to them. Santa Wallace began by asking the students if they ever use their imagination, and went on to explain that on days when she’s home and it’s really cold outside, it’s always 82 degrees and sunny in her mind because she imagines herself sailing on the beautiful Inner Harbor. Jessica Ewell told them sailing opened up an entire new world for her and her husband, who are both blind. They recently enjoyed a sailing vacation together in Maine with the help of two crew members. Ed Duggan stated, “Some people say that we are an inspiration for getting out of our comfort zone and trying something new. I’d like to flip that and say that you all here at OLPH are an inspiration to us!”
The DSC Executive Director, Dave Minges gave the students a fun pop quiz by asking if they could find the common thread among three works of fiction, Treasure Island, Treasure Planet and Pirates of the Caribbean. All involved boats? Yes. All were adventures? Indeed. However, 5th grader, Moira Connelly had the winning answer that all three feature pirates, to which Mr. Minges added, pirates with disabilities; the captain with a hook, one pirate with a patch, and another with a peg leg, bringing home the point that there is a long history of sailors overcoming physical challenges. Mr. Minges spoke of sailing as a metaphor for life, noting that crucial to both is the ability to effectively react when your circumstances change, and that sometimes the most important adjustment we can make is to our attitude. Students captured his message that in literature and in life, not every day will be smooth sailing, but challenges can be God’s way of making us stronger and more grateful for everything we are able to do.