Operating entirely on the generosity of volunteers and in-kind contributions, Sailing Fascination has been bringing joy to, and building confidence in, children and adults with disabilities since 1996. Since then, more than 500 participants with a range of physical limitations have taken the course aboard the organization’s sailboat, Fascination2.
The staying power of the Foundation can be attributed to many individuals and organizations. Financial contributions are received through the ‘First Fruits’ program of a local Costa Mesa church, while the slip, maintenance, cleaning and much more are in-kind contributions from the Basin Marine Ship Yard, the Newport Beach Department of Parks & Recreation, and the California Association of Boating & Waterways.
Sailing Fascination has had to weather some storms along their journey. In 2004, the outboard motor was stolen off Fascination 2, bringing a halt to sailing for many weeks while efforts to obtain a new motor were underway. Through the generosity of some local Costa Mesa businessmen, enough funds were raised to replace the motor and the lessons resumed.
Then in 2007, one of the two founders, Jack Hester, a Newport Beach resident who survived polio and medication-related deafness, had to eventually step down. At the time, Jack was the sole remaining skipper so his departure brought another abrupt stop to Sailing Fascination’s initiative. But again, perseverance on Tom’s part played out and within months, a relationship between the OASIS Sailing Club and Sailing Fascination not only brought a new skipper to the Foundation, but also a volunteer base of over 35 skippers!
Today, Sailing Fascination’s journey to bring free sailing lessons to people with disabilities in the local Orange County area is stronger and better than ever! The Foundation owes their gratitude and sincere thanks to all of the people and the organizations that continue to make this program possible.