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Sunday, March 20, 2011


There are many heartbreaking tales of how ASD's affect the individual, their immediate families and society as a whole. One such story was sent in by Darlene Taylor, a co-worker and one of the nicest people I know:

Neil, first I want to say, thank you. 

You and many others are sensitive to the need of Autism Awareness globally.  As you know through our conversations, that I have a personal interest in this awesome endeavor.  My grandson, whom I've adopted is 71/2 years old and is on the Spectrum. 

I began to notice changes in his behavior and social communication since he was 3 years old.  Immediately, I began to seek help and services for him.  I found that unless one is a strong advocate for your child, he would be denied the help that he so desperately needs and deserves.  So, I refused to take no for an answer.

My grandson has a behavorial disorder that needed special attention.The IEP indicated to me what my rights were so I fought the system until my baby received the help he needed. 

Finally, the system relented and acknowledged that he needed to be seen by a Psychiatrist, gave me a list to choose from, that they recommended and paid for all visits.   All of the testing confirmed what I had known all along.

 We have a long way to go and I am prepared to do what I must in advocating for my grandson.  I encourage everyone to continue to fight the good fight of faith and be persistent, because it pays off.  My prayers are with Neil and his team and everyone that is supportive of this fantastic Voyage to raise and increase awareness for Autism globally.

~Darlene Taylor

Thanks Darlene; your grandson is lucky to have you. Hopefully, more awareness will help families like yours get help easier and sooner!

With less than 4 weeks to go, 'SPRAY' is almost ready to go in the water. Unfortunately, I was sick last week and haven't worked out since last Monday. But I feel good now and am ready to hit the "ERG" again tomorrow!

Here's more about the Voyage . . .

Down Rivers, Up Bays, Across Canals

The Voyage will make use of  several diverse bodies of water getting from Washington, DC to NY. ETA's are based on fair winds and no boat problems, with slim odds on maintaining both for the entire trip!

Leg #1: DC to Baltimore - 6 or 7 days

This first leg is about half the trip. We'll take the Potomac River from DC's Fire Boat Station . . .

. . . to the Chesapeake Bay, then up the Patapsco River to Fort McHenry and BCFD's Fire Boat 1. 

1. Point Lookout, where the Potomac meets the Bay. A confluence of strong currents, when coupled with strong opposing winds can create large waves.
2. The Lower Chesapeake Bay is wide and deep, and is said to have an identity crisis;  it thinks it's an ocean! 
We'll be keeping a sharp eye on the weather, especially on this leg.

Leg #2: Baltimore to Philly - 3 or 4 days

It's further up The Bay to the Chesapeake and Delaware (C&D) Canal, which links the two Bays. 

The C&D is normally prohibited to non-powered vessels due to its narrow channel and its use by large commercial vessels, but The Voyage for Autism Awareness has obtained authorization from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to row through, provided we follow a few minor constraints. A great big THANKS to Jim Tomlin, Supervisory Civil Engineer, USACE - Chesapeake City for his persistent efforts in getting this approved!
Once on the Delaware side of the Canal, we'll hang a left and head North up the Delaware Bay and River to Philly's Marine Unit 1.

1. The C&D Canal. Large commercial traffic cannot maneuver in the narrow channel and must be avoided. 
2. Several knot currents run through the Canal in both directions. Entering must be timed to use a following current.
3. Big ships, strong currents and few places to pull out of the way are challenges on the Delaware River up through Philly

Leg #3: Philly to NY - 3 to 5 days

The Voyage continues up the Delaware River to Trenton, where 'SPRAY' gets pulled out and trailered about 6 miles to the nearest navigable section of the Delaware & Raritan (D&R) Canal

The D&R was completed in 1834 and operated as a barge canal until 1932. Since the 1950's it has been used as a public water supply system and a New Jersey State Park. Thanks to Patricia Kallesser, Park Superintendent, Vicki Chirco, Park Historian and Ernie Hahn, Executive Director, D&R Canal Commission for their assistance and advice.
The D&R spills into, you guessed it, the Raritan River. Depending on the weather, The Voyage will enter New York Bay . . . 

. . . by either the Raritan Bay and the Verrazano Narrows, or the Arthur Kill and Kill Van Kull around Staten Island. The home stretch is up the Hudson River to Pier 40, Manhattan and FDNY's Marine 1.

1. 'SPRAY' will be have to be portaged (pulled out of the water, carried over land & put back in) around 5 non-functioning locks along the D&R Canal, and 1 more time to get from the Canal to the Raritan River.
2. The Raritan Bay takes the full brunt of the Atlantic Ocean when there's an East wind; The Arthur Kill and the Kull Van Kill are Plan B.
3. New York Bay is VERY busy. Tankers, container ships, ferries, tugs, barges . . . we'll keep our eyes peeled and the VHF radio on.

We'll be busy and we'll be careful, but it'll all be worth it if more people get to know what Autism is about and what people who have the disease and their families go through. 

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