Heroes on the Hudson
Friday, September 14, 2012
On a recent Friday, clear skies and warm temperatures welcomed 50 Veterans to Pier 66 on the Hudson River for a day of kayaking, sailing and paddleboarding.
The event, Heroes on the Hudson, now in its second consecutive year, is an adaptive sports clinic for Veterans of varying abilities. It is made possible by VISN 3 Prosthetics and Sensory Aids, VA New York Harbor Healthcare System and the Wounded Warrior Project.
Martina Parauda, Director of New York Harbor, kicked off the day by thanking the Prosthetics Team for their efforts all year long and welcoming the Veterans.
The opening ceremony included the Color Guard from Fort Totten and the National Anthem was sung by the American Bombshells.
After the formalities, Veterans – some with emotional scars and some with physical ones - headed to the boats for a day out on the water. With the backdrop of the NYC skyline, an FDNY fireboat, an NYPD boat and the US Coast Guard, the participants were flanked by friends on all sides.
Just off back surgery, Jerry Miserandino, a Vietnam Veteran, came back for the second year, but not as a participant this time. An Army Ranger, serving from ’66 to ’67, Jerry is an avid sportsman, with his own adaptive kayak from VA.
“I told them I couldn’t come this year because of my back,” he said, wearing an official Heroes on the Hudson T-shirt. “They said, ‘oh you’ll be there.’ So I’m here as a volunteer to help set the guys up.”
A double forearm amputee, Jerry remembers what it was like to be timid about doing events like this. “Been there, done that,” he quipped. “I just love it,” he said of kayaking. “I miss being on the water today. But I’ll be back in next year, stronger than ever.”
Jerry spent the day helping fellow Veterans get into kayaks and enjoy the Hudson River. “I’m here today for my fellow vets – anyone who is apprehensive- it’s just a matter of talking to them,” he assured. “I can help make them feel more comfortable and before they know it, they were in the boat.”
“We want to promote health and wellness for our Veterans, and we realize that sometimes the best location to promote physical and mental well-being is outside the hospital walls, where our Veterans are living their lives on a daily basis,” said Dr. Leif Nelson, Clinical Coordinator of Prosthetics.
“I’m so glad I came,” said Donna Zephrine, a U.S. Army Veteran, who came to the event for the first time. “The event was awesome. I met other Veterans and organizations. It was a beautiful day. I would recommend it to other Veterans.”
Under a cloudless sky, the event also offered chair massages, a caricaturist and music entertainment all day long.