By Buttons Padin, Co-chair of the Robie Pierce Regattas and UK Sailmakers’ marketing advisor

We like to think that volunteers who organize and run regattas for sailors with disabilities are “paying it forward,” meaning that if it were you in the boat, you’d want someone to be looking out for you, too. But paying forward isn’t always the only option.

For the past 12 years, the hundreds of volunteers who have helped make the Robie Pierce Regattas for sailors with disabilities a success have had their contributions of time matched by financial underwriting from sponsors. In the case of the Robie, co-hosted by the Larchmont and American Yacht Clubs, three of those sponsors (Burke Rehabilitation and Research, Montefiore Medical Center, and the White Plains Hospital) are on the front lines of fighting the Covid pandemic. This year, once the late-May Robie was cancelled, instead of their helping us pay it forward, we decided it is our turn to pay it back…to them.

The three Robie co-chairs, Siobhan Reilly (above left), Bill Sandberg, and Buttons Padin (above right) discussed what the volunteers and sailors, could do to help fight Covid. It turned out that another Robie Sponsor, UK Sailmakers New York, had been making PPE isolation gowns out of spinnaker material and had 200 in stock. A quick email to the Robie sailors and volunteers and the funds were quickly available to purchase the 200 PPEs (at a price below UK’s cost). On April 30, Siobhan and Buttons, delivered these 200 gowns to Burke, Montefiore, and White Plains Hospital. Additional contributions have been received and another 100 gowns are on their way to the hospitals, too.

Lianne Hales Dugan, Buttons Padin and Siobhan Reilly at the PPE delivery to Burke Rehabilitation Hospital.

The smiles on the faces of the administrative folks receiving these boxes full of brightly colored PPEs convinced us that paying back can be as rewarding as paying forward. Lianne Hales Dugan, VP Development & Marketing for Burke wrote, “Your donation brought a welcome reminder of the goodness in the world as our staff works tirelessly to ensure that our patients make the fullest possible recovery.”

In addition to the three hospitals and UK Sailmakers, other long-term Robie sponsors should also be recognized for their own initiatives to fight the pandemic including Subaru, Mercedes Benz of New Rochelle, Carlsberg, the Gowrie Group.

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