"There was a time when Bill Donohue thought he might never sail again. But the 57-year-old Brick resident found himself sailing the waters off Qingdao, China, last fall in the 2008 Paralympic Games.

"I was a little disappointed that we ended up in eighth place," said Donohue, who was a member of Team Odyssey representing the United States along with captain Rick Doerr of Clifton and Tim Angle of Marblehead, Mass. The men raced in the Sonar class, and Germany took the gold medal, France the silver, and Austria the bronze.

Donohue credits Sail-Habilitation with providing both inspiration and financial support to assist him in his goal of seeking Paralympic gold.

"It's really an organization set up to help all disabled people and people with special needs," said Donohue, whose right leg was injured following an accident at age 18. He eventually had to have his right leg amputated below the knee in 1997 following 30 surgeries and a high risk of infection.

Donohue, who is on the board of directors of Sail-Habilitation — as is Doerr, a former plastic surgeon who is a paraplegic — said Sail-Habilitation set up a fund to raise money for the $150,000 cost of sending Team Odyssey to qualifying events around the country, as well as to China for the Paralympics.

"Sail-Habilitation raised $30,000, and the Christopher Reeve Foundation donated $9,514 to the fund," said Donohue, adding that he is grateful for the contributions people and the foundation made.

Donohue said he will be at Sail-Habilitation's annual Community Sailing Day on the morning of Aug. 1 at the Lavallette Yacht Club.

While it is unlikely that many of those coming out to spend a day on the water Aug. 1 are likely to turn into competitive sailors like Donohue, the sailor said the goal is to give people with special needs a chance to go out on a boat and experience something they might not normally be able to experience.

"Sail-Habilitation provides an opportunity for people who are disabled to leave their disabilities behind," he said.

In the meantime, Donohue said he continues to sail in local waters.

"I give adult sailing lessons at my yacht club (Shore Acres Yacht Club), and I race on Barnegat Bay," he said.

And whether another Paralympics is in Donohue's future is something he is still pondering.

"I'll wait until next year to decide. I'm 57 right now, and I'd be 60 if we make it into the next Paralympics," he said."

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