Don BackeSailor of the Week: January 30 - February 6
The 2012 Old Pulteney Maritime Heroes Award winner Don Backe of Annapolis Maryland was honored at US Sailing’s 2013 National Sailing Program Symposium (NSPS) in Clearwater, Fla. on Thursday, January 31. Don’s wife Lyn accepted the award on his behalf in front of sailing industry colleagues attending NSPS.
Don is "Hero" to thousands of disabled individuals who participate in sailing because of his efforts. Don is the Founder/Executive Director of C.R.A.B. (Chesapeake Region Accessible Boating), a 501-3C founded in 1991. His disability, making him wheel chair bound for over 25 years, hasn't kept him from the tiller. Don has demonstrated that his inability to use his legs does not mean an inability to enjoy sailing.
Because of Don's tenacity and will, C.R.A.B. has evolved into a fleet of four Freedom 20s, which are home ported at Sandy Point State Park outside Annapolis. A two-hour sail after his hospitalization following a car accident that severed his spinal cord, convinced Don that anything was possible with adaptive sailing techniques and equipment. He had been a sailor/racer for years and wanted to bring sailing to the physically disabled, the blind and mentally challenged. People throughout the area have had the opportunity to sail for pleasure, and racing for the challenged, due to Don's commitment, marine industry support, yacht/boating organizations and volunteers he has enlisted. His leadership and inspiration made this all happen and makes him a model Maritime Hero.
In the culmination of an inaugural campaign to recognize individuals who make significant contributions to their local sailing community, Old Pulteney Single Malt Scotch Whisky and US Sailing announced in December the winner of the 2012 Old Pulteney Maritime Heroes Award. Don was one of six “unsung hero” finalists considered for the top honor. He received the most votes in an online public vote.
“When I founded C.R.A.B I certainly didn’t intend to win an award,” said Backe. “Since that time the organization has changed many lives. It feels great to be recognized for making a difference and it just makes me want to do more.”
“The work that Donald Backe has done with C.R.A.B. captures everything we wanted to highlight in this search,” said Pat Graney, President of International Beverage USA. “Backe’s work is generous, inspirational and obviously bringing his love of sailing to those who otherwise wouldn’t experience it. We and our partners at US sailing are honored to present him with this award.”
“We had great success in 2012 and look forward to expanding the Old Pulteney Maritime Heroes Award in the coming years,” said Amy Larkin, Marketing Director of US Sailing.
Learn more about C.R.A.B. in this video with highlights, interviews, and more at http://crabsailing.org/about-us/.
To read more about the winner and this year’s finalists or learn about nominating an unsung sailor in 2013, visit the award site at www.MaritimeHeroes.com.