EWE Spirit Grant Recipient Story:
One of EWE Spirit Foundation’s goals is to promote sportsmanship, camaraderie, and community access to sailing for people of all ages and backgrounds, just the way Geoff did. Our most recent grant recipient, Team Paradise Sailing, does exactly that—and so much more!
In 1998, Daniel Evans suffered a horrific accident while serving as a U.S. Marine. A crane cable snapped, dropping a 200-pound helicopter part on him, breaking his back, femur and ribs. In the following years, Danny struggled with the transition from “super-fit Marine” to paraplegic. While learning to accept that he wouldn’t play sports like soccer again, he says, “One thing I knew I would do was sail again.”
In 2011, Danny began training with Olympic gold medalist Magnus Liljedahl through the Swedish-born sailor’s not-for-profit program, Team Paradise Sailing, in Miami. Sailing for the U.S., Magnus had topped the Star class at the Sydney 2000 Olympics with his teammate, Mark Reynolds (with whom he recieved the World Sailor of the Year award), and was the Star class world champion and Rolex Yachtsman of the Year that same year. He was also a three-time Star North American champion, three-time Star European champion and six-time Bacardi Cup Star champion. But he’d focused all of his energy since 2005 on creating opportunities for disabled sailors—providing instruction, support and specially adapted equipment for sailors of all abilities and all levels of experience.
“What he provides for us is unbelievable,” says Danny. “I’ll never forget how much he helped me out.” With Magnus’ coaching, Danny began sailing the 2.4-meter singlehanded keelboat. He went on to win the 2012 U.S. National 2.4-meter Championship and two 2.4-meter U.S. Sailing Disabled Championships, and to join Team Paradise’s advisory board. Then he built on his successes by racing in marathons on a handcycle.
Team Paradise is world-renowned for training champions like Danny, but its broader purpose is to inspire and empower both disabled and underserved communities with recreational, educational, and healing sailing programs. Since 2005, the program has served approximately 15,000 disabled military veterans, underprivileged children, and people in need. Its programs range from adaptive sailing instruction for people with visual, physical, intellectual and developmental disabilities to children’s summer camps organized in partnership with the U.S. Sailing Center – City of Miami Parks Department Sailing program.
Whether participants are just looking for a beautiful day on the water or want the chance to compete against able-bodied sailors, Team Paradise helps them heal and thrive. As Danny says, “I love it! I drop the wheelchair off on the dock, hop in the boat, and go as fast as I want.”
Learn more about Danny and Team Paradise Sailing’s amazing work in this award-winning documentary directed by Isaac Mead-Long: Endure the Suck.