Anchors Away Foundation ‘launches dreams’ for disabled students

Sep 01, 2013

Oleta River State Park hosts 5th launch with Supt. Alberto Carvalho 

By Bari Auerbach

Just a pebble in the water can set the sea in motion  - a simple act of kindness can stir the widest oceanThe fifth Anchors Away launch at Oleta River State Park was a monumental event as two new boats joined a fleet of 35 others already creating great possibilities for children with physical and intellectual disabilities to learn to sail and set a course for success in the marine industry.

Anchors Away boats 36 and 37 were christened by Miami-Dade County Public School Supt. Alberto Carvalho: “Anchors Away Foundation” (named for the program itself to commemorate six years of success) and “Sam and Dani”- names of the twin grandchildren of Anchors Away Foundation President, Aventura Comm. Billy Joel and his wife Sandra.  

Comm. Joel explained, “Sam and Dani often heard us talk lovingly about the Anchors Away program and how much it means to us. When it came time for their B’nai Mitzvah, they decided to take the money they received in honor of their special occasion and sponsor a boat. We extend our deepest gratitude to all of our wonderful boat sponsors on behalf of the children who will now know the freedom of sailing their own boats.”

If we show a little love, heaven knows what we could change - so throw a pebble in the water - make a wave, make a wave…This year’s Anchors Away launch was attended by a dedicated crew of benefactors and community leaders uniting in efforts to teach disabled students how to sail on their own while learning science, math and life skills – an innovative concept conceived by Dr. Jayne Greenberg, Executive Director of Physical Education and Health Literacy for Miami-Dade County Public Schools.

“There has never been a time, a place or a community that has ever given so much to our children with disabilities,” Greenberg said. “Thanks to your collective vision and generosity, the boats you see out on the water engraved with your names will sail forever across hearts and all of our waterways. As you watch our students today you’ll see that something magical happens when the sun hits their faces and the wind is at their backs. They are free to feel, learn and be independent in an environment that has no barriers, boundaries or limitations.”

The single choice to take a stand and reach out your hand to someone in need to help somebody - you never know what can grow from just one seed…Comm. Joel joined by Aventura Marketing Council chair Cliff Schulman of Weiss, Serota, Helfman, who serves as Anchors Away Foundation vice president, helped welcome special guests including:

Superintendent Alberto Carvalho, Miami-Dade County Public Schools; Assistant Superintendent Enid Weisman; School Board Vice Chair Dr. Lawrence Feldman; School Board member Dr. Martin Karp; Fl. State Sen. Gwen Margolis; Miami-Dade Commissioner Sally Heyman (sponsor of two Anchors Away boats); Aventura Commissioners Bob Diamond and Zev Auerbach; North Miami Beach Councilwoman Phyllis Smith; North Miami Mayor Andre Pierre; Sunny Isles Beach Mayor Norman S. Edelcup and Vice Mayor Lew Thaler; Alan T. Brown, Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation; and Barry Stevens, Park Manager of Oleta River State Park.

Special appreciation was expressed to event sponsors including Wachovia, A Wells Fargo Company; Williams Island Marina; and Public Relations by Karen Dennis, O’Connell & Goldberg. Thanks also went out to Miami-Dade Parks and Florida Park Service; Anchors Away instructor David Diamond; student boat captains; student mentors from the Miami Beach Sr. High Jr. ROTC and Hialeah Gardens Sr. High; and the Dr. Michael M. Krop Sr. High classical string orchestra under the direction of Bringle Cidel.

So let's show a little love, you never know what we can change - throw a pebble in the water - make a wave, make a wave!  "Thousands of children from Miami-Dade Public Schools now participate in the Marine Academy and Anchors Away sailings from the home base of Oleta River State Park, Coconut Grove Sailing Club and Miami Yacht Club,” Comm. Joel said.

“We’re proud to say that 100% of every dollar donated to the Anchors Away Foundation is spent on purchasing the boats, specialized motorized equipment for children who cannot use their arms, beach access wheelchairs and other necessary equipment for the continuation of this program. We thank all our sponsors and donors who have given our students the freedom on the water that they may not have on land.”

Community leaders shared their heartfelt sentiments just before the two newest boats in the Anchors Away fleet were officially christened and mastheads displaying flagship sponsor names began propelling students along their journey to further success.

Alberto Carvalho, M-DCPS Superintendent

“You’ve taken a dream from words to actions with this wonderful Anchors Away Foundation. In the process of participating, we glorify and honor the defenseless and invisible in our communities. Because of programs like this, literally and figuratively, they get to be ‘in the sun.’ Thank you because YOU take the journey from the impossible to the possible.”

Enid Weisman, Asst. Superintendent

“Special thanks to Sam and Dani - not many kids your age would make this contribution but you did it because your grandparents set a standard and example that’s hard to match.”

Dr. Lawrence Feldman, School Board Vice Chair

“People have to understand what compassion is and you have to model it.  What Sam and Dani have done makes two statements: There are no excuses - and there is no failure.”

Dr. Martin Karp, School Board Member

“There are no walls when it comes to learning…the Anchors Away program has made a tremendous difference in the lives of so many children.”

Miami-Dade Comm. Sally Heyman

“The sails that fly equalizes these kids to everyone else – there are no challenges or disabilities – it’s just them and nature.”

Sen. Gwen Margolis

“You’ve done a wonderful job – always remember this moment because you’re making a difference for so many children in Miami-Dade County.”

Alan T. Brown, Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation

“Christopher was a sailor before and after his accident – and when I learned about the Anchors Away program I said, ‘We’re so happy to be here!’ We helped sponsor some of the wheelchairs providing access to the boats and want to assist in any way we can to keep children going forward every day.”

Barry Stevens, Oleta River State Park Manager

“We’re so pleased to be the home base of the Anchors Away program and hopefully it will continue for years to come. We have big plans including a newly-formed citizens support organization called ‘Friends of Oleta River State Park.’

For more information about Anchors Away Foundation, contact the Aventura Marketing Council: 305-932-5334.

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