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Chicago sailing program gives opportunities to people with physical disabilities

Judd Goldman Adaptive Sailing program helps disabled boaters hit the waves
Judd Goldman Adaptive Sailing program helps disabled boaters hit the waves 02:37

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Lake Michigan boaters and sailors are preparing for their season. While many people love getting on the open waters, the experience is extra special for one group in particular.

A sailor will tell you they can never get enough time on the water, but for some of the participants who have come through the Judd Goldman Adaptive Sailing Foundation, they never thought the water was an option for them.

"I grew up in the suburbs, and I had never really had the chance to interact with Lake Michigan before," said volunteer instructor Patrick LoDuca. "They make water accessible for someone who is a wheelchair user, like myself."

LoDuca, paralyzed since 16 with spina bifida, uses a transfer box to get aboard.

"I love just being out on the water," he said.

He came for his first sail in 2008, and now serves as a volunteer instructor in a private-public partnership with Chicago Park District.

"Ninety-nine percent of the people that come into the program have never sailed before in their life," said Peter Goldman, whose father, Justin "Judd" Goldman, was just 17 years old when a disabling bone disease limited his mobility, and some of his options.

"He couldn't play football, baseball, basketball as he explained it. So he found sailing to be a sport that he could be involved in," Peter said.

Peter and his family run the Judd Goldman Adaptive Sailing Foundation in his father's name to give others the same opportunities.

"I think the number one thing I want someone new to experience is just the fun of being out on the water," LoDuca said.

The foundation's 20 boats were fully built with mobility in mind.

"Any day out on the water for me is better than any day on land," said volunteer instructor Sarah Gilbert.

One man's dreams now open opportunities for 1,000 adaptive sailors each year.

"I think my father would be very amazed to see what the program is like," Peter Goldman said.

To give more people an opportunity to try adaptive sailing and get on a boat, they're holding an open house on June 1 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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