Jose and Ronnie enjoy the calm ocean

Cpl. Jose Armenta, USMC had always wanted to learn how to sail.  Many might have wondered if he could.  Jose was wounded in Afghanistan in August 2011.  Today he is double amputee and will soon be medically retired from the Marine Corps. 

This fall, Hope For The Warriors was proud to partner with Bay Area Association of Disabled Sailors (BAADS) and hold a sailing clinic for wounded service members.  No sailing experience was required and the nature of injury did not matter.  We were clear–every person could learn how to sail.

This confidence came from the vast amount of experience from BAADS as well as from Ronnie Simpson, wounded veteran.  Hope For The Warriors met Ronnie in 2010 when we granted a Wish to help him compete in his first sailing race.  Our Board of Directors’ President, Don Gray, allowed Ronnie to borrow his sail boat.  Ronnie completed a race that left San Francisco Bay and landed in Hawaii on July 4.  His Wish had been granted and his dream was now a reality!

Ronnie in 2010 on his borrowed sail boat/ Photo by Latitude/LaDonna

Two years later, Ronnie turned to Hope For The Warriors for assistance to complete the same race again.  The race started on June 30.  This date was so important because it was Ronnie’s Alive Day–the day he almost died in Iraq, eight years earlier.  Only this year on June 30, Ronnie was living his dream of being a sailor.

Photo by Surf City Racing

And so it is with this confidence and excitement that Ronnie led Jose and several other wounded service members to the water and into the boats.  The clinic was an amazing success and many shared how therapeutic the sport was for them–both physically and psychologically.
 

“Sailing provides me a freedom that is hard to find when you are disabled,” Armenta said.  “By sailing, I can compete with able-bodied people.”

Jose has already competed in his first race.  BAADS loaned him a sail boat and on October 28, he completed the U.S. Disabled Sailing Championship in San Diego.  He plans to continue his sailing.

Ronnie will also continue to sail and with his additional experience, has some amazing adventures planned for 2013. He will also hold four clinics throughout the country so that other wounded service members gain the benefits of sailing.  If you are interested in one of the sailing clinics, let us know

If you are interested in reading more about Ronnie’s story and understand how far he has come, read this great article that was in Outside Magazine

Ronnie and Don both have inspiring stories and are available for speaking engagements. Funds for future clinics are raised through these speaking engagements.  Contact Don for more information.