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Trim The Sails

Reprinted from SNS July 2018

A trip out to sea and learning to sail is just one part of what a unique program in Rhode Island provides to people with disabilities

Larry Mangini has always loved being on the water. He owned his own sailboat and scuba tanks. He raced his boat and had weekend rituals of picking up buddies to go out and dive.

In 1996, however, the Vietnam veteran lost most of his sight to an eye condition. He describes it like opening your eyes underwater  not totally gone but fuzzy with no specific recognition. 

“Boy, my world changed,” he says. “That 1996, I went through an awful lot, loss of a lot of things.”

After losing so much, Mangini told himself he “had to get out of this dark hole.” 

“It was folks like [CEO] Paul [Callahan] at Sail To Prevail that put the light on, opened the door, put you on the road to success,” Mangini says. “I owe a lot to myself. I know, however, you can’t do it alone. You need support and you need wonderful people.”

Mangini had gotten a college degree and a job at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), but he says one of the biggest improvement in his quality of life came from returning to activities he loved, like skiing with the VA and sailing with a then-new organization called Sail To Prevail. 

“When anyone can support and give you a quality of life again that you had [when you had] all of your faculties, and the old friends would come by to pick you up to go scuba diving or I’d pick them up, geez, you lose your sight and your world changes,” Mangini says. “You don’t have the same friends for the same reasons. They’re still in your life, you know, if they bump into you, ‘Hello,’ but they don’t come by anymore because you don’t have the boat, the truck, whatever, the tanks for scuba diving. So things change. 

“But all of a sudden, you get into these support groups, one of them being Sail To Prevail, and I stay quite active with as many of these outfits as I can, because it does, like I say, give you back that quality of life and there are people who care ... You’ve got folks you can bounce off of, you know, you can put in a day with, like you always used to when you had a license and drove over to a friend’s house. That’s what’s nice about these outfits. Sail To Prevail has captured that environment, there’s no doubt about it.”

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Trim The Sails


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