Sailing for Life

In Sports, Wheelin' and Dealin' by Nathasha Alvarez

Karen Mitchell has a goal to top all of her other sail ing

achievements. She wants to be the first woman to represent the USA sailing team in the 2008 Paralympics.

She has already spent the last three years training for the Paralympics. In the meantime, she has won the 2003 and the 2004 North American Challenge Cup/Independence Cup, Best Female Sailor in Biscayne Bay 2002, and a three time winner of Gruson/Milam Trophy for Most Outstanding Female Skipper 2003-2004.

It seems Karen enjoys being the first woman in many sailing events including the first disabled skipper to participate in the Rolex International Women’s Keelboat Championship 2003 and the only woman to ever win the Mobility Cup 2002.

Not everything in her life has been smooth sailing. In 1980, at the age of 19, Karen was left a high functioning quadripligec after a diving accident in shallow waters.

Rather than drowning in self pity, she found sailing to be her life preserver. During the 1990’s, Karen was laid off as an occupational therapist along with many more people in her field due to budget cuts.

If that didn’t make for stormy seas, in 1999 she had to fight bladder cancer. According to Karen, it is a miracle that she is still alive today.

“As long as I could sail, I knew I would have a reason to live,” she said. That is why her sailing campaign is called “Sailing for Life”.

Now as a motivational and public speaker, she wants to share her passion with other people. She is eternally grateful to Shake-a-Leg Miami for the demonstration she had attended 10 years ago which allowed her to realize that she could navigate a sailboat despite her physical disability.

If she could, Karen would sail 365 days out of the year in every regatta and sailing event around the world.

“The level of skills has increased over the years in everyone and makes competing that much more exciting and interesting,” Karen said.

You would think that nothing could stand in her way to achieve her goal for the Paralympics, especially after her fight with bladder cancer. Unfortunately, sailing the seas is not for the weak wallet.

Karen is actively pursuing sponsorships from many corporations and private donors.

“Sailing costs cover the training, maintenance and equipment for the boat and the man power, too” she said. According to her, it takes two handsome men to get her into the boat.

With only three years of training, she has accomplished more than most sailors. It would be a Titanic mistake to not see Karen fulfill her goal because she lacks the funds to keep her a float.

Anyone interested in contributing can click on her link located on the right side of this web page or cut and paste the address .

Donations are tax deductible.