Disabled Sailing Association of Ontario

In Memoriam - Barbara Joan Haig

Barb died suddenly but peacefully in Sault Ste. Marie, ON early in the morning on Thursday, August 11, 2016. She is survived by her father, Robert Haig; her sister Margaret (Yves Paradis), Pamela (William Bartley) and Judith (Carmine Tullio), also her nieces and nephews Daniel Paradis, Katherine Paradis, Alexander Bartley, Paige Tullio and Christine Tullio.

Barbara was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba on May 16, 1953. Her family has warm memories of her taking on the challenges of a wide array of activities such as water skiing, snow skiing, tobogganing, para-sailing and sailing. She had a dare devil's love of speed, and a card-shark's facility with cards.

Barb loved sailing, but mostly enjoyed spending time with her sailing friends, she was a good friend to Edward Segovia, and many times they'd be seen racing around in Ed's scooter with Barb standing up holding onto the front handlebars.

In Memoriam – Edward Segovia

Edward Segovia, our friend, a sailor and volunteer in recent past passed away suddenly on November 11, 2015 at the age of 48. Survived by his wife, Leeann Donahue, son Bobby and daughter Sofia. Sadly missed by his brother Luis (Shelley), sister Carmen, brother Carlos (Gayle) and his nieces and nephews, Christopher, Michael, Andre, Tatiana, Tyler, Isabelle and Madeleine.

Although Ed was not active in the club for a while, due to health and family related issues, I am sure many of our long-time members know and remember him well. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Heart and Stroke foundation.


In Memoriam – Stuart Mazza

Stuart Mazza from RHYC (Royal Hamilton Yacht Club) passed away at home in his 35th year on October 20, 2011 after living courageously with cancer for the last six years.

Stuart Mazza sailed at Mobility Cup 2011, returning to racing after nearly 10 years while adjusting to the constraints of a physical disability. Stuart finished 12th and 16th in the Silver Fleet of 26 Martin 16s. Stuart had grown up on the waters of the Royal Hamilton Yacht Club where he learned to sail.

Stuart had trained to become a pilot when he was diagnosed with a brain tumor about eight years ago. When the resulting surgery impacted the vision in his right eye, forcing him to give up his license, Stuart re-trained as an aircraft mechanic for Air Canada. When symptoms returned, prompting a second surgery, Stuart became a hemiplegic, losing movement on his left side including the loss of feeling in his left arm.

Stuart’s family would appreciate donations to the Canadian Brain Tumour Foundation or the Able Sail program at RHYC.

In Memoriam – Nigist Legesse Sewnnet

It is with a profound sense of loss that we announce the passing of Nigist Sewnnet on Tuesday, March 1st, 2011.

Nigist had experienced several health complications over the last several months. Although her exact cause of death has yet to be determined, she passed away peacefully in her sleep.

Nigist was known and loved, cherished and respected. She is survived by 4 brothers and many nephews who adored their aunt.

Nigist was a DSAO Past Commodore, board member, volunteer, ambassador, inspiration and friend to many. She was an active member of National Yacht Club, where she sailed in the 2.4mR fleet. Nigist was a proud member of the Ontario Sailing Team in the 2.4mR class. She raced Martin16, Challenger, Hobie 16 and given the chance would race anything else that floated. Nigist was a beautiful person, our Queen, our friend and now our angel.

In Memoriam - Michael Townsend

Michael Townsend got up early at his cottage on Stoney Lake (north of Peterborough) and took a bus to Toronto to join us at Queen’s Quay Disabled Sailing for the festivities of Opening Day 2010. On Wednesday, May 26, 2010 Michael Townsend passed away.

As a member of our Board of Directors, Michael had made the trip from Peterborough to Toronto every month for the past 4 years. His dedication to the task of starting up a DSAO Chapter in Peterborough had been unstoppable despite Michael’s increasing physical challenges. His decades of experience as a teacher, an historian, a sailor and an extremely active member of his community left us in awe as Michael regaled us with stories that would make a wonderful memoir.

The retired high school teacher was a past president of the Lakefield Historical Society and the Peterborough Historical Society, a member of the Trent Valley Archives, the chairman of the management committee for Hutchison House and a member of the Peterborough Architectural Conservation Advisory Committee, to name a few local organizations, in addition to his activities with DSAO. Michael even competed at Mobility Cup 2009 here in Toronto. Michael’s wife pre-deceased him by 20 years, and he kept on going with that “indomitable spirit”.

The board of directors of DSAO will miss Michael very much and are dedicated to making Michael’s dream of an accessible sailing program in the Peterborough area a reality.

In Memoriam - George Rustscheff

It is with great sadness we announce that our friend and colleague of Disabled Sailing and DSAO passed away Valentine's Day, February 14, 2009, he passed away peacefully at Toronto General Hospital attended by close friends and family members. George Rustscheff had great passion and love for our waterfront and sailing. His presence will be missed by all and our prayers go out to his loved ones. George's ashes will be laid to rest at North Shore, Maui.

Born in 1956, George attended the University of Toronto, graduating from the School of Architecture. Following a brief period of internship, he changed direction and pursued a career as a professional tennis umpire on the Men's ATP Tour. This permitted George to combine both his love of travel and sports, including officiating at two Olympics, Seoul and Atlanta. Aside from his professional tennis association, George engaged in a variety of sports activities, focusing on his main passion, windsurfing. While home base was surfing with friends in Toronto, George used any available opportunity to pursue his hobby in Maui, where he has asked that his ashes take their final resting site at the fabled North Shore.

George's mother and father, Lilly and Kamen, brother Stan and wife Ruth (Stymiest), their children Stefan, Christina, and Nikki, sister Nina Stultz, her husband Richard, and their children, Ariana and Lex, survive George.

George was an active member of DSAO, and represented DSAO with professionalism and care negotiating with Harbourfront for a new ramp and docks. George will be greatly missed by all of us at DSAO.

In Memoriam – Vanessa Anderson

Vanessa’s involvement with QQDSP and DSAO began through Mobility Cup 1999. Dianna Wiley, Vanessa’s mother, was a huge supporter of Mobility Cup 1999 and the event organizer for the whole week. As a result of Mobility Cup 1999, DSAO was born. The first step was to establish a flagship program, which was the initiation of QQDSP. Someone had to be hired to start/design and implement this new program. Vanessa Anderson took on this challenge.

Vanessa was on staff at QQDSP for the first 5 or 6 years. She practically ran the sailing program single-handedly at times.

Vanessa was on staff at QQDSP for the first 5 or 6 years. She practically ran the sailing program single-handedly at times. Steve Alvey was her mentor in the implementation of policies and procedures and the program management. Ultimately, Vanessa touched every aspect of the program from fundraising to operations to annual reports. Steve and Vanessa became fast friends. Vanessa was whole-heartedly dedicated to the program.

Vanessa then moved on to Toronto Parks and Recreation. As part of her role, she implemented a forum for support of disabled sports in the city of Toronto. Vanessa created and ran the Toronto Sledge Hockey program, working with Holland Bloorview Kids Rehab. Vanessa was passionate and dedicated to the equal right of disabled people to have the opportunity to participate in sports. Her plan was to expand into additional sports.

There was a tree planting ceremony in honour of Vanessa on Ward’s Island on October 14th. From where her tree stands, one can watch the Toronto harbour that she loved so dearly.

In Memoriam - Debbie Donald

Debbie Donald was a friend, an inspiration, a loving wife, an avid sailor, a famous mouth painter who sold her artwork, self sufficient, and one of the longest surviving quadriplegic patients in history.

In 1972, at the age of 17, Debbie Donald became a C1-C2 paraplegic as a result of a diving accident. Her life was saved after extensive surgeries and implants to control her breathing, along with her unshaken determination to live.

After 13 years in hospitals and a short stay at the Transitional Centre at West Park Hospital, Debblie moved out on her own. During her rehabilitation she became interested in art and began sketching with a pencil held in her mouth. To assist her, Debbie was given art classes by a volunteer from the Ontario College of Arts. Debbie received a scholarship from the MFPA to further her painting skills.

Debbie was also very active in the community. she lobbied government and businesses, she volunteered to speak at schools, church groups, service clubs and visits patients with high spinal cord injuries. Debbie was an advocate for access needs of those with disabilities, she truly believed that everyone living with disabilities should have the opportunity to live a full and enriched life, and not be hindered by the many barriers to accessing services, whether they be an entrance to a building, living arrangements, or the wait time for Wheel Trans. She truly believed that one’s physical limitations should not hinder one from living a full and enriched life.

In 1999 Debbie was introduced to QQDSP and the Martin 16. This became a new recreational outlet as well as a sport. Debbie competed in the Mobility Cup, and in 2000, she competed in the World Cup in Chicago. She loved sailing, and it was in a sailboat where she felt free from her physical limitations, where she could race with others, and where the only hindrance to movement was the lack of wind. She then joined the Board of Directors of the Disabled Sailing Association of Ontario to share the love of her new sport of sailing with other disabled people.

For her services within the community, Debbie received the Commemorative Medal during the Jubilee for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

While Debbie may have been in a wheelchair, immobile save for her pretty, expressive face, she was a force of nature. You could not meet Debbie without being taken by her spirit and passion for living. She will be missed by all who knew her.

In Memoriam - Daren Tucker

Daren didn’t see the roll of newsprint falling from 2 floors up. He was in his early twenties when it caught him in his upper back. Daren had a C3-C4 spinal injury and required a ventilator. With the help of his wife Patti, Daren didn’t stop.

He was president of Ontario Wheels for Legs Successibility (OWLS) and their most enthusiastic sailor. So enthusiastic that he entered the Guinness Book of World Records in 2000 for an 8-hour sail across Lake Ontario in a Martin 16 using sip-and-puff technology. One of his favourite mementos was a photograph of Christopher Reeves and himself comparing notes on the equipment they were using.

Daren suffered a massive stroke on Thursday Feb 12, 2003. Our sailing community sorely misses him.

DSAO - Disabled Sailing Association of Ontario DSAO is a family of organizations that promote and enable Ontarians with disabilities to experience therapeutic, recreational and social rehabilitation through the freedom of independent sailing. DSAO's objective is to build the sport of disabled sailing, assist with athlete development and sustain international competitive excellence. DSAO - Disabled Sailing Association of Ontario
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