Good morning J80 enthusiasts! It’s been awhile since I’ve posted. Life gets busy sometimes, and before you know it, the days disappear on the wings of a stiff southerly….
There is lots going on around the country with regard to local and regional events, and the J80 NA’s are set for October at Lakewood Yacht Club in Texas…but that’s not why I’m writing today. I wanted to fill you in on some of the good work being a part of this awesome class always us to do.
As some of you may know, The Leukemia Cup Regattas are a series of events held at different locations around the country throughout the year to help raise funds for research into Leukemia, Lymphoma, and other blood cancers. The first regatta was held in Annapolis, MD 23 years ago, with the latest edition held this past weekend.
Though the events are pretty standard around the country, one aspect of the Annapolis event is very unique. Years ago, J80 Fleet 10 (the Chesapeake Bay fleet) decided to change it up a bit. Fund raising while competing on the course is always a good time, but maybe they could do something a little more. A group of owners and event supporters got together and hatched a plan. What if, instead of just sailing, the group pulled out of the normal regatta aspect and took children in treatment and their families out for a fun day of sailing just off the docks of Eastport Yacht Club. There is plenty of room right off the club to host such an event. By keeping the venue close to land, it was easy to get anyone back to shore if a medical issue arose. The owners also recognized the layout of the J80 cockpit and overall stability of the boat made it the ideal platform for such an event. The proposal was presented to the Fleet, the local Leukemia and Lymphoma Society chapter and Eastport Yacht Club. Everyone loved the idea and the Leukemia Cup J80 Fun Race was born!
So, this past Saturday, the 6th Annual Leukemia Cup J80 Fun Race was held. The children (some in treatment, some in remission and some long time survivors) and their families arrived at the club around 11AM. They were attended to by scores of volunteers, including members from local High School sailing teams. Chic Fil A, a long time sponsor, treated everyone to lunch. The kids snuck over to the painting area, where a donated mainsail was spread out for all to adorn as they saw fit! Then, the kids were assigned to boats for the day, introductions were made, and everyone headed out on the water. Spectator boats were provided so the parents could stand back and enjoy some desperately needed downtime. And the kids got to stop worrying for a while and just be kids playing on the water experiencing something new!
After 4 close races, and lots of laughing, giggling and tons of smiles, the fleet headed back in for ice cream and awards. And in this event, everyone wins!
I can tell you from personal experience that this is the most worthwhile sailing this group does every year. The ability to give back and influence others in need using a sport we all love is incredibly humbling. I have been blessed with being at 5 of the past 6 Fun Races, and it becomes more rewarding and emotional every year. Church Key has had the gift of taking many children over the years, from kids in treatment, to survivors, to the siblings of a sister taken by this disease just weeks before she was supposed to come sail. You fall in love with these kids, and I stay in touch with many of the families still. They become part of your family, after all. This year we had the added bonus of taking McKenzie Wilson, a spunky 11 year old and her older sister along for the ride. McKenzie was this year’s Annapolis Leukemia Cup Honored Skipper. Even better, she had just been moved into the survivor category…4 years cancer free!
So, come next May, you’ll see the local Chesapeake Bay J80 sailors out again. There’ll be splashing, feet dragging in the water, new intrepid ‘skippers” driving boats for the first time, and smiling parents at ease for a bit. We hope if you’re in the area, you’ll stop on by. Even more, if there is a Leukemia Cup Regatta in your area, you may decide to do this little bit more….we are standing by to answer any questions you may have on how we do this. And we’ll travel to assist if needed.
If you are so inclined, I’ve attached the link for the J80 fleets Leukemia Cup fundraising page. Even 5 dollars helps…..
I hope this finds you all well. Stay happy, healthy and safe over the coming summer sailing season.
Yours in Sailing,
Chris Chadwick, USA J80 Class Association President
USA 59 CHURCH KEY
| 01 June 2015 |