How Team Paradise Helps Veterans and Disabled Persons Set Sail
“The reward is in the journey, so make every day count,” says Magnus Liljedahl, the U.S. Olympic champion in sailing.
His journey started in Sweden many years ago when he had sailed frequently with his father. After moving to the US, Magnus was able to turn his passion into a sport by joining the US sailing team for the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, where he won a gold medal.
“When I went to the Olympics, I had tried for almost 30 years to make it finally. Mentally, I was prepared and had a sort of envision of winning and standing on the podium. So, when I got there, I almost felt like I had been there before,” Magnus explained.
After finishing a fruitful career in professional sports, Magnus never gave up sailing. In 2005, he founded Team Paradise, a truly unique Miami-based sailing organization that gives underserved young people, U.S. veterans, and individuals with disabilities the ability to sail a real boat, instead of just riding along as passengers. All boats are customized and adapted to match the abilities of the sailing crew. For most of his visitors, Magnus became more than just an accomplished captain. He is an inspirational leader who empowers everyone through recreational, educational, and healing sailing programs.
“Sailing is often a soothing and relaxing experience, providing solitude and contemplation while improving concentration, core strength, and mental wellness,” Magnus Liljedahl says. “Sailing teaches teamwork and communication, and is a shared accomplishment that builds self-confidence.”
A veteran's days spent sailing help their adjustment to civilian life, and participating in the Magnus’ program helps them meet like-minded people as well, all of whom say sailing taught them how never hit rock bottom.
Lanita Oceanne Soleil, a US Navy Veteran, comments, “I joined the Navy a million years ago when I was 18 years old. Being a part of a recreational therapy program with Magnus's group is an absolute dream come true.”
by Lilia Anisimova for 'Voice of America'
Team Paradise is located at the US Sailing Center on Biscayne Bay, the ideal venue to provide the healing benefits of sailing to even larger numbers of the disabled population. They have a program for everyone, whether you want to compete in racing, take sailing lessons, or simply go out onto the ocean for fun.