Tag Archives: Shake a Leg Miami

Shake-A-Leg Miami – The Adaptive Sailing Experts

Sailing and the ocean doesn’t necessarily bring the term “wheelchair-friendly” to mind, but Shake-A-Leg Miami for the last 26 years has been intent on changing this. One of the most well-known adaptive sailing organizations in the world, Shake-A-Leg Miami thrives on bringing disabled individuals out onto the water and so much more.

From offering adapted kayaks and guided sailing lessons to providing summer camps and youth programs, Shake-A-Leg Miami’s offerings are impressive, and everything they do is housed in their equally impressive home base – a large facility right on the water in Miami, previously owned and operated by the U.S. Coast Guard.

To renovate the facility into one that is universally accessible, Shake-A-Leg Miami entered into a partnership with the City of Miami, giving in-need youth and others access to this wonderful facility. Many able-bodied kids from economic-hardship backgrounds sail for their first time because of Shake-a-Leg Miami.

Shake-a-Leg’s origins did not begin in Miami, but rather was founded in Newport, Rhode Island by Harry Horgan (a paraplegic and past SCI Superstar). In 1990, Harry’s surgeon at the Miami Project, Dr. Barth Green, persuaded him that his program should be moved to Miami so that it could be open all year round, and that is exactly what he did. The program has expanded immensely since moving to Florida.

Harry on-board one of Shake-A-Leg’s ships.

A 501(C)(3) nonprofit, Shake-a-Leg Miami offers a huge variety of water-related activities and services. They offer several programs for kids. One of the most popular is there We Can Sail program, where every Saturday they offer a sailing and sports day for kids with disabilities and their families. They also offer their nationally recognized initiative, Spirit of America, which provides boating and water safety education to middle school students with and without disabilities.

And for those with disabilities, Shake-a-Leg Miami offers a Wellness Center where you can do yoga, strength training in an accessible gym and pilates all in a barrier-free environment.

 

They also teach sailing instruction and kayaking to people with disabilities and they offer a variety of social activities. If you’re interested in competing in sailing on an international scale like the Paralympics, you can train at their sports center and/or wellness center as well.

Not only do they have accessible kayaks, they also provide rides on accessible powerboats and sailboats, including the latest addition to their fleet – The Impossible Dream – a 60 foot catamaran financed and lead by Deborah Mellen.

Deb Mellen on the Impossible Dream.

The Impossible Dream is on a mission of showing how purposeful design and technology can open up the water and improve the quality of life of people with disabilities. Impossible Dream will be sailing up the east coast this summer. Visit impossibledream.us and learn how you can go for a sail.

Harry on the Impossible Dream while docked in Rhode Island.

Meaning to literally get a move on it, “Shake-A-leg” is doing just that; helping people get out on the water and do something that seemed impossible, over and over again all year round.

Visit them online: Shake-A-Leg Miami

Watch the Videos

Shake a Leg Promotional Video Final Cut HD

Dr. Mitchell Tepper, a quadriplegic, visits The Impossible Dream @ Shake-A-Leg Miami

SCI Superstar: Harry Horgan

Sailing calls out to many people, and it definitely called to Harry Horgan, founder of one of the most established sailing nonprofits in the country. What started as an adapted sailing program 30 years is now helping both people with disabilities and underprivileged children experience the beauty of the open water. Shake-A-Leg Miami has undoubtedly changed thousands of lives.

Also a husband, brother, as well as a father to a teenage boy who loves sailing just as much as he does, Harry is a seasoned paraplegic who is many faceted, but his compass will always remain pointed towards sailing. His upbringing on the East Coast near the water had a strong influence on him, making sailing one of his top passions.

Why he’s fearless

For many reading this, Harry has been paralyzed longer than you’ve been alive. Injured in 1980 when he was 22 years old (he was in a car accident, flying out the car door). The fact that he survived was a miracle, but Harry was completely lost following his injury. Growing up in Rhode Island, he was very athletic and came from a family of famous golfers. Harry’s love for sports and the water played a special role in his everyday life. That all changed with his injury and during those early years he felt he could no longer take part in what he truly loved.

However, a couple of years after his injury he was introduced to adaptive sports through a program in Colorado, and this experience completely changed his mind-set on what was possible post-injury. He decided to get back to what he loved doing, sailing, and he slowly figured it out.

Harry next found himself driven to help people with disabilities try something he felt so passionately about. So he decided to found Shake-A-Leg in his homestate, an adaptive sailing program. But the foundation didn’t stay in Rhode Island for long. After meeting with Dr. Barth Green with the Miami Project in 1990, Dr. Green persuaded Harry to move his foundation to Miami where they could provide sailing all year round, and he moved his program there in 1990.

For over 26 years, Harry and his foundation have been providing accessible sailing experiences to people with disabilities in the Miami-area, and he has a fleet of over 20 non-powered accessible vessels. Without a doubt, one of the most impressive things he accomplished while running Shake-A-Leg is helping design a completely universally accessible sailboat called the Freedom Independence, one of the first accessible vessels ever created.

What’s next?

Harry is busy as ever as president of Shake-A-Leg Miami. Earlier this year he helped celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act by inviting President George Bush Sr. on a giant accessible catamaran, known as The Impossible Dream, when it was docked in Rhode Island. He also stays busy in his personal life. Harry is married to his wife Susie and the two have a teenage son, Eli, who loves sailing just as much as they do.

Harry truly is the grandfather of adaptive sailing here in the US. Thanks to Harry thousands of people with spinal cord injuries have experienced sailing for the first time. He has used the sport of sailing to heal and inspire for over 30 years. Adaptive sailing wouldn’t be where it is today without Harry Horgman.

Have you gone sailing with Shake a Leg Miami?

Visit Shake-a-Leg Miami online

Watch the videos!

Captain Harry Horgan, founder Shake a Leg Miami

Ileana meets with Harry Horgan of Shake a Leg Miami

Shake A Leg Miami Testimonial