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Whoa, Momma!

Sharon Kennedy Wynne, Tracey Henry and Suzannah DiMarzio

Autistic boy's success at sailing leads to new summer camp



sailing.jpgThere's a very heart-warming story you can read here from on one autistic boy's great experiece at the Clearwater Sailing Center that led to a new summer camp this year, Camp Awesome, aimed at helping children with disabilities. There's a fundraiser tonight (April 27) to raise money for the camp.

Last year, Bonnie Monroe searched tirelessly for a summer camp that would enroll her autistic son, Mark,12, who has high functioning autism. She found Clearwater Community Sailing Center and Rich White, an instructor who taught Mark to sail.

The kid really took to it and the encounter changed Mark's life forever, his mother said. By the end of last summer, not only had he learned to sail and paddleboard by himself, he had joined the Sailing Center's regular summer camp activities.

"Seeing Mark sail, I was in tears," she said. "He was usually hanging out in the corner playing video games. It was amazing how learning to sail helped change my son."

Since last summer, CARD, or Florida's Center for Autism Related Disabilities, has trained sailing instructors and other Sailing Center staffers so they have a better working knowledge of how to assist children with special needs.


Camp Awesome fundraiser

What: Silent auction and cocktail party

When: 6 to 9 tonight

Where: Clearwater Community Sailing Center, 1001 Gulf Blvd. on Sand Key

Tickets: $10 advance or $15 at the door, which includes an automatic entry to win a two- night stay in a luxury hotel or other prizes

Information: (727) 517-7776 or order tickets at


It's so impressive to see the staff at the sailing center jumping into this project in such a big way.

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[Last modified: Friday, April 27, 2012 12:53pm]


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