12 special sailors take on the Hudson

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On a rainy May afternoon, a group of first-time sailors, many of them wheelchair-bound, boarded a boat on the Hudson River to test new waters and break free from their disabilities.

The downpour in the forecast did not deter Chris Robinson, of Nanuet, from casting aside his wheelchair and boarding the boat. A motorcycle accident in New Jersey left him paralyzed 15 years ago.

?Anybody can do it,? Robinson says. ?If there's a will, there's a way.?

Robinson is one of a dozen participants who took part in an adaptive sailing program, which is being offered by the Helen Hayes Hospital in West Haverstraw and The Nyack Boat Club. The goal of the program is to show people with disabilities that they too can play sports and enjoy water activities like anybody else.

Before setting sail, the men and women who enrolled in the program took an introduction course at the Nyack Boat Club, meeting their instructors and physical therapists.

?You can't let things stop you and you got to keep on going, and that's basically what I tell people,? says Janet Swayne, who has been struggling with multiple sclerosis for the past decade.

Maneuvering around other anchored boats with ease, Robinson and Swayne seem like they are right at home on the choppy waters of the Hudson, forgetting about their landlocked limitations.

Besides sailing, Helen Hayes Hospital offers other adaptive sports like handcycling and softball.

Helen Hayes Hospital

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