Sailor of the Week: July 16-22
Clint and Christine Daniel of Point Pleasant, N.J. are the parents of 12-year-old cancer survivor, Thomas Kiesel. The proud parents were desperately looking for something active their son could get involved in after his last cycle of chemotherapy in the summer of 2007. Thomas had endured a long battle with Peripheral T-Cell Lymphoma, and his parents were trying hard to get him re-acclimated to life as a 12-year-old.
Clint had golf in mind, but was disappointed to find out he had missed the deadline to sign Thomas up for lessons. What a blessing in disguise that turned out to be. Christine and Clint came across a brochure for youth sailing lessons at the Nelson Sailing Center in Island Heights, N.J. Thomas was hooked immediately, and was eager to take his experience to the next step when he saw other kids racing in Optimists at the Island Heights Yacht Club (IHYC). Clint and Christine made it happen, and eventually bought an Opti on Ebay, and had it restored for the upcoming summer. “Thomas told us sailing that little boat was like regaining his freedom,” said a tearful Clint. “When he was out on the water, he was in charge, he was the skipper, and it felt good.”
Thomas began sailing in local regattas, and he started collecting awards for his performances and overall outstanding attitude and spirit. The award that meant the most to Christine and Clint was the Most Enthusiastic Sailor Award he received from the IHYC. The effect sailing had on Thomas went above and beyond their expectations. They were just looking for something Thomas could get excited about. The self-confidence he developed while learning to sail crossed over to his school work. Thomas was out of school for nearly two full school years, and returned with a winner’s attitude. He received several academic awards, along with making the Honor Roll, and he worked hard to reach these goals.
Last weekend, Thomas sailed in The Leukemia Cup at the Beachwood Yacht Club (N.J.). He wanted to sail for his grandmother, who they lost earlier this year. He also sailed in US SAILING’s Junior Olympic event at IHYC this past Monday and Tuesday.
Clint explained, “Christine and I will never be able to thank everyone for what sailing has meant to our son, but all I can say is thank god we missed the deadline for golf lessons.”