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International and Local Organizations Welcome Blind Match Racing World Championship

Sheboygan, Wis., Sept. 4, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- International, regional and local organizations are ramping up preparations as six teams from five nations prepare for the journey to Sheboygan, Wisconsin to compete in the Plenco IFDS Blind Match Racing World Championship. 

Teams made up of three person, blind crew members will race head-to-head on the waters of Lake Michigan from September 9-14. 

Public viewing of the event will be at Blue Harbor Resort on the shores of Lake Michigan in Sheboygan.

B1 and B2 blind sailors from Great Britain, USA, Canada, Italy, and Australia will demonstrate their amazing ability to trust their senses to get them to the finish line first.  Plenco, Plastics Engineering Co., of Sheboygan has pledged overwhelming support, making them the title sponsor for the sailing regatta.

In addition to Plenco's generous support, International Lions Clubs both locally and internationally are heavily involved with the planning of this event.  Area clubs are pledging to "adopt" the International teams by assigning Lions Ambassadors.  These kind-hearted Ambassadors will welcome, support and assist teams with all needs including escorting to event entertainment.  "We are an International organization and every one of these visiting teams comes from a country with Lions.  It would be great for each team to come ashore to a crowd of Wisconsin Lions cheering just for them," said International Director, Karla Harris. Sailing Education Association of Sheboygan, (SEAS) and Sail Sheboygan are thrilled with the level of support that the Lions are giving to this event.

The event has been an inspiration to Local Lion, BJ Blahnik who, surrendered his driver's license at the age of 23 due to Retinitis Pigmentosa. Twelve years later, after becoming involved with the IFDS Blind Match Racing event, Blahnik is discovering a passion for sailing, hoping one day to compete. (Read BJ's story). That enthusiasm supports SEAS vision of building an adaptive sailing program specifically geared to the visually impaired.

Looking ahead to that vision, SEAS and are RCS, Rehabilitation Center of Sheboygan are planning ahead for the adaptive sailing program. Of this prospective partnership, RCS President, Ron Van Rooyen states, "RCS is excited to partner with SEAS to offer sailing opportunities to people with disabilities. The partnership with SEAS offers a unique experience that RCS participants have never had. Participants receive training and support to be part of a sailing team comprised of people with and without disabilities. The thrill of being on the water and playing a role in the sailing process brings a whole new level of independence, self-esteem and inclusion for participants. The non-disabled partners in the sailing program learn to see what people with disabilities CAN do and learn valuable life lessons from their RCS sailing partners who just happen to have a disability." RCS coordinators and clients have pledged their hard work to help with the daily shore-side activities during the IFDS Blind Match Racing World Championship.  They will also be an integral part in welcoming the athletes and making sure that their visit to Sheboygan is memorable.

"The planning and organizing of this event has been incredibly humbling and altogether gratifying as we've watched many individuals, organizations and businesses generously pledge support that shows dedication to helping others and to afford them the opportunity to sail despite a disability. This generates incredible excitement for the future and the building of a world-class adaptive sailing program," said Leslie Kohler, chairperson of SEAS. 

SOURCE Sailing Education Association of Sheboygan (SEAS)

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