SARP’s mission is to provide disabled veterans and other disabled athletes with year ‘round opportunities to build physical fitness, self-esteem and community connections through rowing.
We have two primary strategic goals:
- Recruit disabled veterans and other disabled athletes from the Sarasota, Manatee and Charlotte County region to learn to row;
- Provide disabled athletes with the opportunity to learn, practice and compete in the sport of rowing in a safe, supportive and accessible environment with professional coaching and appropriate equipment and facilities.
History / SARP was founded in 2010. In our first 15 months of operation, we conducted 55 training and competitive sessions for five disabled athletes, including participation in three regional regattas. We began the program with five participants included two disabled veterans, Colonel (R) Jack Gerber and Sergeant First Class (R) Willy Lee. During this time, the scope of our operations was limited to developing the ability to assess athletes’ varying capabilities, providing alternative training methods and innovative, adaptive uses of rowing equipment, and operating safely on the water with athletes of limited mobility. Initially, participants met either twice a month or weekly; frequency has now increased to twice each week.
Progress / SARP’s disabled athletes have made significant improvement in their rowing skills, which is a testament to the validity of our approach. Currently, 100 percent of our participants have improved their physical abilities and continue to meet their personal benchmarking goals, such as improved bladework, balance and mobility.
In order to ensure sustainability, SARP has developed a strong relationship with our host organization, Sarasota County Rowing Club (SCRC).
In addition, we recently made a long-term commitment to adaptive rowing by investing in training for eight SARP members through the United States Rowing Association (USRA), giving us nationally recognized certification in assessing the technical and medical capabilities of our program participants. USRA has officially identified us as an adaptive rowing program on the national governing body’s website.
Other highlights of our initial program included SARP sponsorship of U.S. Paralympic bronze medalist Laura Schwanger at the 2011 and 2012 Sarasota Invitational.
Be sure to check our blog for recent updates and successes!