Patrick LoDuca remembers two things from racing his first regatta in Chicago: the way the wind picked up that afternoon as if to test his knowledge, and taking home two”bullets,” or first place medals.
“I can still feel the thrill of that day,” he says. “Looking back, it was really the beginning of a decade of racing for me that still continues today,” he says.
LoDuca, who was born with spina bifida, learned to sail through the Judd Goldman Adaptive Sailing Program, which provides sailing classes for people with physical disabilities to help them become more independent and boost their self-esteem.
The program was founded in 1990 by Peter Goldman and was inspired by his father, Judd, who found a passion for sailing after contracting a serious bone infection.
“My father quickly found that, unlike many sports, sailing makes you feel like an equal — you can race just about anybody regardless of any physical limitations.
“Thirty years later, the program continues to recreate that same feeling for its participants — teaching them to become comfortable and confident skippers with the goal of total independence on the water. Dozens of program participants have gone on to sail on their own and even race in regattas with the best sailor s in the world.
“The program teaches sailing as a practice for your mind, body and spirit,” says LoDuca,
who is now also an instructor in the program.
“It challenges you mentally to learn techniques and tactics, it’s great exercise and it lifts your spirits. I think anyone new to sailing will find it irresistible.”
For more information on the program and ways you can become involved, visit www.juddgoldmansailing.org. And to find volunteer opportunities in your community, visit www.createthegood.org.
To listen to an interview with Peter Goldman and Patrick LoDuca and for more stories like this, subscribe to the “Creating the Good with AARP Illinois” podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts or any where you listen to podcasts.