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RSW Living Magazine

Therapeutic Boating

Therapeutic boating experiences help those in need

Spending a day fishing, an afternoon sailing,
or a morning on a boat ride is something many look forward to. For kids with life-threatening illnesses, people with disabilities, veterans and active military, and at-risk youth, boating experiences like these are not only enjoyable but also therapeutic.

Debra Frenkel, founder and executive director of Freedom Waters Foundation, an organization founded in 2006 and operated by just 3½ employees, describes the boating experiences as, “self-empowering, relaxing and freeing.” So far, more than 3,400 have participated in the programs that range from adaptive sailing to fishing tournaments for at-risk youth to veterans programs to two big boat trips on Memorial Day and Veterans Day.

The foundation offers a variety of opportunities and events year-round, such as the Murdo Smith Adaptive Sailing Regatta at Sugden Regional Park in Naples. The regatta is for people with disabilities and is held in partnership with Collier County Parks and Recreation. 


The Freedom Waters Foundation also offers boating and fishing programs for veterans where boat owners and volunteers donate the use of their watercraft and their time.

These life-enhancing experiences are all made possible by the more than 300 volunteers who provide their private and commercial boats, time and dollars to the Freedom Waters Foundation.

For volunteer opportunities, visit