Paying it Forward

One boater’s generosity reminds this editor why boaters are the best.

Wounded Warrior Charter

Daniel Harding, Jr.

The greatest perks that come with working at Yachting are not the things I get to do or the places I get to see, but rather the people I get to meet. Case in point:

Some of you might remember that our August 'Currents' section featured reader, David O'Keeffe's winning photo in our Ahhh Best Photo Contest. O'Keeffe's picture of a stunning sunset over Cuttyhunk Island earned him a 2-night yacht charter aboard the 63 ft, Churchill-Yacht-owned Victoria Rose. It turns out, he was unable to use the charter because in his words, "I already have a boat and will be cruising down the ICW at that point." Selflessly, he asked if he could donate the charter to a wounded veteran who would be a much more deserving recipient than himself.

Working with Churchill Yachts and Wounded Warrior, we were able to honor his wishes and donate the charter to a very deserving Iraq veteran who lost his legs in the line of duty, Brian Fontaine and his wife Mary.

Both Brian and Mary were extremely humble as well as thrilled to be spending the weekend aboard Victoria Rose. When they arrived, I asked if I could do an impromptu interview with them. They were happy to oblige and were so down to earth that what began quite formally quickly morphed into a friendly conversation. From a candid discussion about Iraq and veterans' affairs, to a spirited debate over the Yankees and the Red Sox, I immediately felt as if we were old friends.

Brian and Mary wound up having a great weekend, which they would never have gotten to experience if not for one man’s selfless act. In my mind O’Keeffe exemplifies everything I hope for in a reader. He owns a boat, he gets to use it and he appreciates the fact that he’s a pretty lucky guy.

I’m sure he could have given the charter to a family member, friend or fellow boater but instead, he chose to pay it forward, to someone he knew was more deserving.

David, if you’re reading this, thanks for your generosity and thanks for reminding me why boaters are the best.