Grace Kennedy is 19 years old. She was born with Spina Bifida and has been confined to a wheel chair all her life.
In 2013 she crewed in one of the world's toughest ocean races the Rolex Sydney to Hobart.
Grace has put in a long hard year of training to make the MWF Hobart team - we asked her Mum Nicole how the experience has changed Grace.
“This is a life changer for Grace” said Nicole
“I can see a huge improvement in her confidence and independence. She’s part of a team and has great relationships with everyone. I’ve seen a strength in her I never believed possible.
At the beginning I would always be on the dock waiting for Grace to come in because I knew she found interaction with people daunting.
One time recently I was unavoidably a few hours late picking her up... Grace wasn’t phased at all.
She simply took herself off to a local park and read a book! - something she would never have had the confidence to do before.
Through her physical training she is much stronger and fitter and I can see a grit and determination developing in her... a commitment to achieve.
When Grace was younger our local community loved her. She would play in the street with all the local kids - she was just one of the gang.
Through MWF Grace has found a new community. She is part of a new team. A team where the focus is on ability not disability, and where everyone works together to achieve the best outcome".
“I’m really blown away by family, friends and community support. I’ve had well wishes and contributions from so many people I didn’t even know.
Our school raised $500 and put 20 photos on Faceboat. My family and friends have put on more than 20! I will never be alone out there and it will all the more exciting knowing that there’s my family and friends sailing with me”
“I really like what our founder David Pescud said about sailing being the great leveller. In the middle of the night everyone’s blind and in a howling gale everyone’s deaf. And I can most identify with the bit where he says that in huge seas everyone’s scuttling around on their bum!
The thing I like most about sailing is doing it with a team.
Because of my disability I could never play team sports like soccer or AFL like my sisters and brother did.
But sailing is all about teamwork and more.
It’s not only about working together to achieve a common goal, it’s also very much about looking after one another, ensuring the safety of the crew and maintaining all the equipment”
Lots of people want to sail to Hobart but not many make it.
So why choose a 19 year old girl with Spina Bifida to join the team?
We asked MWF founder David Pescud to tell us what he saw in Grace that made him set her on this path.
“Grace is engaged with life” smiles David
“She gets up every morning and says 'What am I going to achieve today?' She never wastes a day.
She is disabled and yes there are things she can’t do. But she she knows and accepts that and moves past it. Through accepting her life she steps outside the 'disability box' and moves forwards.
I can see Grace getting bigger and better and stronger every day. She’s starting to understand the results of contribution - that when you contribute amazing things start to happen.
On the water she leaves her disability behind and becomes the real person. Not the Grace with spina bifida but Grace the strong, young sailor with fire in her belly".
Grace would like to thank, for their support, the local Community Bank, the St Georges Basin Country Club, Ladies Auxilliary, Classic Home Improvements and Helly Hansen who supplied all her sailing gear.