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The one hundred honoree: Sailing Heals

Profile in Medicine

The one hundred honoree: Sailing Heals

Mass General Giving

“Escape for a spirit-lifting day at sea,” is the mantra of Sailing Heals, which invites patients with cancer to leave behind the burdens of treatment and join loved ones and caregivers for a splendid experience at sea, courtesy of volunteer host captains.

Based in Bradford, Mass., Sailing Heals matches yacht owners and crews who volunteer as “Host Captains” with corporate sponsors and “VIP Sailing Guests,” patients receiving or completing treatment at the Mass General Cancer Center and other hospitals.

Partnering with such boating groups as the Corinthian Yacht Club and Boston Yacht Club, both of Marblehead, Mass., and Nantucket Community Sailing, Sailing Heals adapts each excursion to the needs of its guests. Uniting patients, family members, friends and clinicians in an experience far removed from the rigors of treatment, the sailing excursions often include a water-side lunch.

In July 2011, Executive Director Trisha Boisvert (seated, left) and her twin sister Michele Gallagher co-founded Sailing Heals, with assistance from founding sponsor Panerai, an Italian firm specializing in luxury watches. Sailing Heals is already setting sail with patient guests beyond Massachusetts to offer ocean outings from ports in Rhode Island, New York City and Miami. In 2012, the organization hosted about 230 guests for spirit-lifting days at sea.

Mass General Cancer Center patient and Sailing Heals “VIP Guest” Linnea Duff summed up her spirit-lifting day by saying, “Cancer took a back seat that day; we had the time of our lives!”