Paralympic sailor shoots for gold in London

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August 15, 2012, 10:58 am
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(NECN) - Paul Callahan, is a quadriplegic Paralympic Sailor and CEO of Sail to Prevail. He will compete in the upcoming Paralympics  Aug. 29-Sept. 9. He leaves for London August 20. Paul is originally from Rehoboth, Mass., and now lives in Newport, R.I.

Paul will represent the United States in sailing and compete with two teammates, one a single amputee, the other a double amputee, going for the gold against 42 other disabled sailors from 14 other countries.

This will be Paul's second Paralympics. He went to Sydney in 2000 but didn't come home with a medal, placing in fourth.

Paul's journey began with an unfortunate incident when he was 21. He's now 56).  While attending Harvard University, Paul slipped on a wet floor and hit his head and shoulder on a hard surface, breaking his neck in the process. The freak accident left him a C4-5 quadriplegic confined to a wheelchair with little use of his hands.

How does he find time to run a full-time business and train for the Paralympics?

"First you have to have the will to win and then you have to have to will to share that victory and those wins," Callahan said. "It's important to do that by leveraging your victory and your journey to other disabled people and especially disabled people, it helps you manufacture time."

That did not stop Paul from pursuing his dreams. He went onto graduate from Harvard Business School and entered the business world at Goldman Sachs. During that time Paul was given the unique opportunity to learn how to sail with the help of gloves he wears that are attached to bicycle pedals, which helps him steer the boat through a Newport-based charity called Sail to Prevail, which had been around since 1982, the first of its kind. He became Sail to Prevail's CEO 15 years ago, which he still holds today.

Sail to Prevail (www.sailtoprevail.org)  has grown to now help more than 1,000 special needs and disabled children every summer learn to sail.

Watch the attached video for the full interview with Callahan.

Tags: London, Newport, Rehoboth, sailing, Mass., R.I., Paralympics, Paul Callahan
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