thumb

What is Sailability?

We are a group of dedicated volunteers who envisioned and implemented an opportunity within our community to bring the sport of sailing to those individuals who were physically challenged, so they could partake in this fun activity. Sailability Greater Tampa Bay is a 501(c)3 organization.

Since our inception, we have been able to have a positive impact on many individuals. Our program has graduated many sailors who are mentally or physically challenged, as well as able bodied children, adults, and seniors. Some of the physically challenged individuals we’ve been proud to serve include quadriplegics, paraplegics, amputees, stroke survivors, and those with neurological impairments such as cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, and multiple sclerosis.

We are very proud and appreciative that all of Sailability’s accomplishments have been made possible because of our extremely dedicated volunteer staff.

Our Mission

Sailability Greater Tampa Bay’s mission is to provide affordable, accessible, sailing activities and education to children and adults of all abilities, focusing on community integration to improve the quality of life for all involved.

Our History

The concept of our program was born in March of 2001 when a small group of people envisioned that the sport of sailing was one in which individuals who were physically challenged could partake with the right support. They knew that boats could be adapted to individuals’ needs, thereby affording those with physical limitations the opportunity to experience the fun in sailing.

By June of 2001, Sailability owned three Access Dinghies and by December 2002, we owned a fleet of six. By 2003, a grant awarded by the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation allowed us to purchase a vessel in which a ventilator dependent quadriplegic would be able to sail independently.

In 2003, we became the first organization to provide sailing instruction to the Special Olympic athletes in the State of Florida. Their experiences were so positive that the Special Olympic organization in Pinellas County contracted with us to train their athletes and unified teams in sailing.

In 2004, after training provided by Sailability, Lynn Moers set a record as the first ventilator dependent quadriplegic to sail independently in the U.S. on an Access Dinghy. In June of 2008 when Sailability hosted their event for veterans, Lynn led the way for our returning Iraqi vets, demonstrating the opportunities our waters could provide to them.

Today, Sailability continues to make sailing accessible to people of all abilities through outreach events for many organizations and community sailing events. As we grow into the future, we anticipate expanding our program and touching many more lives!

 

Board Members

Al Almeida, Director

Al Almeida has been in the engineering business for over 30 years. He is a mechanical design engineer specializing in the Pharmaceutical, Biotech and Life Sciences industries.

Before joining Sailability in March, 2007, Al volunteered as an adult literacy tutor in Sao Paulo, Brazil. He has also volunteered as a design and construction coordinator for PASA Organization’s new facility in St. Petersburg, Florida and coached youth soccer for a number of seasons with PPYS in Pinellas Park, Florida.

Al is an US Sailing Certified sailor. He enjoys the outdoors and especially sailing. Seeing the accomplishments of our special needs sailors has strengthened his character while broadening his life perspective.

Al Humphers, Director

Al Humphers began his sailing life at age 9 in Alameda, Calif., and continued it through his career managing hotels around the world. In the mid 70's he set off on a yearlong passage from Boston to San Francisco and also completed many off-shore journeys throughout the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico, as well as extensive cruising in Chesapeake Bay. Al was manager of Clearwater Yacht Club for eight years, followed by a four-year stint as director of the Clearwater Community Sailing Center until his retirement in October 2008.

Bruce Bayes, Director

Bruce Bayes has been a supplier of rehabilitation medical equipment in Florida for almost 20 years. In the early 1980's, Bruce pioneered a custom seating division in his company to address the unique seating needs of clients who use wheelchairs.

Bruce has been an innovator in seated-mobility product development. He has designed some new products, has served on the advisory panels of several wheelchair manufacturers, including Quickie and Everest & Jennings, and has suggested product innovations that were incorporated by the Safety Travel Chair Company.
Bruce has been a leader in service delivery, pioneering the use of a professional "team" approach to product selection and establishing many "Seating Clinics" throughout Florida. In addition, Bruce serves as an Advisor to the Florida Medicaid Program in reviewing state funding guidelines.

Claudia Nable, President

Claudia is one of the co-founders of Sailability Greater Tampa Bay. She has been involved with disabled sailing for more than fifteen years. With over 30 years of working as a Registered Nurse, her medical expertise serves to enhance the organization’s high level of safety standards and comfort in serving the special needs populations.

Her experience has been in a variety of highly intensive areas in the medical field. At NYU Medical Center in NYC, she worked in Orthopedics, Neurology, Neurosurgery, Neurosurgical ICU, and Emergency Medicine. Working in the NYU Neurosurgical ICU, one of the main research centers in the Northeast, provided her with the cutting edge developments and treatments of Spinal Cord injuries. This experience strengthened her background and understanding of the newly injured spinal cord injury patients. Claudia is currently a wound care nurse at Innovative Healing Systems in Tarpon Springs Florida. Her goal is to be able to continuously grow the program, and assist in the empowerment of all the individuals involved.

Dennis Denninger, Director

Dennis is a native New Yorker who relocated to Florida in 1997. He is a former NYC Police Officer and a retired NYC Firefighter. He began volunteering with special needs children in 1978 with the Community Mayors of NY and The Sunshine Foundation.

Dennis began sailing and racing in 1980 in the coastal waters of New York City. Upon arriving in Florida he resumed sailing and racing with a local fleet and now competes regionally and nationally as well. He came on board with Sailability Greater Tampa Bay in the spring of 2003. Dennis enjoys sharing the joy of sailing with people with special needs. He finds that watching the sailors as they progress with their skills very rewarding. In the fall of 2007 Dennis assumed the sailing/teaching and coaching of SGTB personnel.

Jeff Miller, Director

Jeff is an avid sailor who started sailing at age 18. As a dedicated and self-taught sailor, Jeff has owned and mastered several vessels, including a 16’ Hobie, a 13’ Day Sailer, 23’ Kittiwake and currently a Catalina 22. He has crewed on an Ericson 32, a Morgan 30, Ensign 23 and Morgan 25.

Jeff has been a volunteer with Sailability for almost 10 years. He has lived in Florida since 1972 and attended University of South Florida. He works at Tampa General Hospital in the field of Medical Supply Distribution. In addition to sailing, Jeff enjoys cycling and soccer. He also volunteers at the Humane Society of Tampa.

Karen Strum, Secretary

Karen Strum has been a member of Web, graphic design, copywriting and marketing teams for Fortune 500 companies since 1996; helping them build strong brands and increase customer loyalty. Some of her key accounts include RCA, GE, Monster.com, ATA Airlines, Emmis Broadcasting, Motorola, Web MD, Raytheon Aircraft, Wiley and Sons Publishing, Monsanto, Arm & Hammer, and Disney Wilderness Preserve. Karen is proud of being on the winning teams of several prestigious awards.

Karen learned to sail at the Indianapolis Sailing Club in 2006 and began volunteering for Sailability in 2009. While most of her time in training was spent crewing in Y-Flyer races, she has also enjoyed a number of overnight sails on Lake Michigan and Chesapeake Bay.

Mandy Bruce, Treasurer

Mandy Bruce is a native of Michigan. She joined Sailability in 2014 as treasurer. She's a retired accountant with over 20 years of accounting and financial system design work for Denso International America, Inc. and prior to that with various private and public accounting work. Her passion is her family and helping wherever there's a need whether it be in her family, friends or community. Her latest role as grandmother to two wonderful grandsons brings her the greatest joy. Although she doesn't sail, what Sailability stands for aligns with her passion.

Mary Ellen Fiore, Director

Mary Ellen Fiore has been a Florida Resident for 35 years. Her financial and business knowledge stems from being an entrepreneur business owner as well as her background in banking and the airline industry. Mary Ellen has several passions in life – family, sailing and volunteer work. She is a four year Team Captain of “Johnny’s Florida Angels” (raising money for autism research). She is a current member of Windlasses Women’s Sailing Club and enjoys racing in the local Ensign fleet. Mary Ellen’s true joy comes from her time spent with Sailability.

Eileen T. Newsome, Director

A Native New Yorker, Eileen relocated to Florida after an enjoyable career in the financial services world. Using her knowledge and skills, she now enjoys helping others achieve their goals.

Testimonials

I have been sailing with Sailability for almost 5 years and I love it! The volunteers and staff are so nice and very careful. They use the lift to transfer me from my wheelchair on the dock to the sailboat. Then I take off across the water with the help of a volunteer. When I’m sailing it feels like I’m flying.

Jon Hughes

I write on behalf of the young sailors at the Calvary Episcopal Church/Pinellas Suncoast Fire and Rescue Youth Sailing program. For several years now, Sailability has offered our children scholarship opportunities to the Clearwater Community Sailing Center. Your organization has truly made a positive difference for our kids and I want you to know that we are profoundly grateful for your generous support. Along with my personal thanks, I also extend my prayers and best wishes as you continue this wonderful work which is clearly impacting the lives of so many for good.

Father Bob Wagenseil

Sailability made it possible for the Guardian ad Litem program to have 9 of their children spend the morning on the water April 26. I was able to bring Chris, the 16-year old on one of my cases. Chris was so excited he called me EVERY day the week before the event. The day of the event was magical for him. This normally nervous, hyper child was completely relaxed and mesmerized by the water. He helped with everything he could so we wouldn’t have to leave. The volunteer sailing instructors were so patient and understanding with every child. Sailability and the people who work there are wonderful!

Marsha Gilbert

A HUGE thank you to Sailability for providing the children from the Guardian ad Litem Program with a day full of wonder and excitement. The day on the water was better than a week of therapy!! Taking the helm of a sailboat and “being in charge” is something the children don’t get in their normal life. The volunteer staff made everyone feel comfortable and gave the children the opportunity to help with all aspects of rigging, sailing and putting the boats away. This was a huge sense of accomplishment for the children. THANK YOU!!

Fram Abilock

I surprised my wife, Sue, for Valentines Day by taking her sailing. She (and I) had a blast! Sailing was fun, but the people made it special. Everyone was so nice and helpful! Thank you Sailability, and all the volunteers, for making this possible. I am hoping that we can make it out again some day for another great experience!

Dennis Mancuso

Our sponsors