Disabled sailors race across Chicago

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On the open water, Bob Jones and Ken Kelly find freedom gliding across Lake Michigan. (WLS)

On the open water, Bob Jones and Ken Kelly find freedom gliding across Lake Michigan.

But back on land, they use wheel chairs to get around; Kelly and Jones are both paralyzed from the waist down.

"You go from an active athlete, outdoors person, to someone who's having to learn how to adapt to life in a wheelchair," recalls Kelly of challenges he's faced.

The Judd Goldman Adaptive Sailing Foundation helps with that transition.

"Sailing really evens the playing field. Whether you're disabled or able-bodied, you can race against each other," says the foundation's president, Peter Goldman.

He founded the organization to honor his father, Judd, who persevered as a sailor despite his own disability. Others, like Jones and Kelly, have found the same passion.

Bob and Ken have been sailing together for more than a decade. Ken steers with the tiller and Bob has the strength for the "sheets" up front. When they get on the boat, they truly leave their wheelchairs behind in every sense of the word.

"It's the only sport I continue to do on a regular basis," says Jones while manning the sails.

After the duo settles into a specially designed craft, Ken and Bob's only struggle is the wind.

Lifting the sails and guiding the boat with minimal assistance from an onboard able-bodied sailor, this team's raced against other sailors-including those without similar physical disadvantages. Ken Kelly's also two-time Paralympian with a silver medal.

This weekend, the duo reunites for the annual Independence Cup, bringing together disabled sailors. It's the Goldman Foundation's marquee event and a way to inspire new athletes, showing them a way to thrive with the mist on their faces and the wind in their hair-a day on the water every sailor enjoys.

Related Topics:
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