Paul Calahan on the dock with sailors and sailors underway on the bay
•  Overview
•  What is PUFFS
•  History
•  Brochures
•  Outcomes Study
•  Program Highlights
•  Officers & Staff
•  Support

History & Highlights

1982:  Sail To Prevail, (formerly Shake-A-Leg), is a 501(c)(3) charitable non-profit organization founded in Newport, Rhode Island, in 1982. Shake-A-Leg began with a mission to provide traditional and complementary therapeutic services that facilitate the development of independent living skills for individuals who have experienced trauma, chronic illness, or other developmental disabilities. This comprehensive program was aptly named “Whole Life Therapy.”

1986:  A sailing program was initiated, beginning with just one Independence, a 20-foot, handicapped-adapted sailboat. The State of Rhode Island made available the necessary dockage for our boat at the Sail Newport Sailing Facility located at Fort Adams State Park.

Over the years, the traditional therapies we originally offered (ground-breaking, eight years prior to the “Americans with Disabilities Act”) slowly became common through other agencies. However, our Adaptive Sailing program expanded and remained as a unique opportunity for disabled people. The program grew to a fleet of six sailboats, eventually became the primary program at Shake-A-Leg Newport, and was so widely acclaimed that it has been replicated throughout the nation.

1996:  Paul Callahan – a quadriplegic, Harvard Business School graduate, Wall Street investor, who had learned to sail at Shake-A-Leg years earlier – became the Chief Executive Officer of the organization. In this most recent era, we have been operating on a balanced budget, while widening the scope of disabilities we serve, and have increased our tracking of positive outcomes.

1997:   Confidence is Cool camp was established for disabled children, ages 7 to 17, to spend a whole week enjoying sailing and other activities designed to meet their needs and challenge their potential.

2004:  A new, extra-wide, 75-foot dock with pilings was built to accommodate the growing fleet of sailboats and eager disabled participants. The renovation project was capped off with the installation of a flag pole to proudly wave the American flag and organization’s banner.

2007:  Sail To Prevail began our annual weekend sailing clinic for disabled Veterans.

2008:  Sail To Prevail was the recipient of an extraordinary gift – the 66-foot America's Cup yacht, Easterner, which the organization engineered into a unique vessel with special adaptations to be operated by disabled people as fully contributing crew members in racing. “Easterner clinics” provided therapeutic sailing for children and proved to be a breakthrough methodology of achieving positive results and exciting, new opportunities for disabled individuals. We began expanding into the areas of pediatric cancer, autism, and intellectually challenged groups. The organization achieved the milestone of 10,000 participants served.

2009:  For the first time in history, aboard Easterner, a combined crew of disabled and able-bodied sailors competed in the 12-Metre World Championship, and even won a race! Easterner was also utilized to offer short-term sailing clinics for disabled children in Nantucket, MA. Meanwhile, the regular Newport Adaptive Sailing program was near capacity.

2010:  Shake-A-Leg re-branded its name to Sail To Prevail to better emphasize our mission of creating opportunities for disabled children and adults to overcome adversity through therapeutic sailing. Additionally, Sail To Prevail initiated the “Sail Away from Cancer” program in collaboration with Hasbro Children’s Hospital.

2011:  Sail to Prevail became an official “Paralympic Sports Club.” Also, a new “Independence 20” handicap-adapted sail-boat was donated and dedicated for a full-time summer program in Nantucket, establishing the Nantucket Chapter of Sail To Prevail.

2012:  The year 2012 marked our 30th anniversary, and the sailing programs have served 15,000 disabled participants in three decades. Also in 2012, we replaced our entire fleet 25-year-old of sailboats with brand new Independence 20 adaptive sailboats to take our effective programs into the future.

Sail To Prevail remains the only Adaptive Sailing program in the State of Rhode Island. We solely fill the void and create this unique opportunity for disabled children to take advantage of their spectacular waterfront location and participate in this highly recognized recreational activity in our “Ocean State.” The immediate joy and gratification from sailing is just the beginning to a better quality of life. Success in sailing is utilized as a means to overcoming other challenges and adversities in their daily lives.