After years of training and preparation, quadriplegic sailor Paul Callahan has the London 2012 Paralympics Games’ gold medal within his sights. The 55 year-old athlete, who splits his time between Newport, RI and Cape Coral, FL, is a veteran Paralympian and CEO of the non-profit Sail To Prevail, which helps thousands of disabled children through sailing. He has spent thousands of hours on the water preparing for the XIV Summer Paralympic Games, which will feature 503 events in 21 sports with 4,200 athletes competing between August 29th and September 9th, 2012 in the United Kingdom.
Callahan, who is a C4-5 quadriplegic confined to an electric wheelchair with little use of his hands, sails with the help of rollerblading gloves attached to bicycle pedals that aid him in steering. He and his U.S. teammates Thomas Brown of Castine, ME, and Bradley Johnson of Pompano Beach, FL, will set sail in the Sonar division competing against 42 other disabled sailors and 14 different countries.
While winning the Gold is top of mind for the seaman, Callahan’s focus never strays far from the non-profit charity that he has “captained” for the past 15 years. “Sail To Prevail changed my life in so many ways. I don’t think I would do a Paralympic campaign if I weren’t running Sail To Prevail. At the heart of it, winning the gold medal is driven by the fact that all those energies, all those experiences and lessons learned, can be funneled back into the organization. In one you see the other’s success,” he explained. “Representing the United States and being in the spotlight at the Paralympics is an honor. But it also allows me to shine the spotlight on Sail To Prevail and introduce others to the benefits that sailing can bring to those with disabilities, which is my ultimate goal.”