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VANCE CLARK, INJURED IN A 1982 MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENT, STEERS A CHARTERED YACHT TOWARD RECOVERY


NORTH FORT MYERS, FL -- Vance Clark, 42, recently stood at the wheel of a 42-foot trawler yacht and continued a life-long cruise toward recovery.

Clark has been steering this heading since 1982 when a car pulled alongside his BMW touring cycle in the Midwest and a passenger reached out of a window and popped him in the back of the head with a baseball bat.

The doctors didn't expect Clark to live and, indeed, he spent eight months in a coma. Now, the goal of his doctors is not merely to keep their patient alive, but to give him a life

This summer's cruise was Clark's reward as well as his therapy. He is a resident of Lake Forest, a long-term treatment center near Detroit for traumatically brain-injured persons. On this cruise, his caretakers were also his boating friends, Dr. Kevin Lynch, a neurospecialist, and Lenore Truitt, his care manager. They reviewed the items, all checked, that earned this excursion. Room clean. No cussing. Words pronounced carefully.

Barb Hansen of Southwest Florida Yachts, the North Fort Myers, Florida charter firm, scheduled Vance and his friends aboard Forever, a 42-foot, Grand Banks trawler. It was Clark's third charter with Southwest Florida Yachts and one of about 30 boating expeditions he has enjoyed since the injury.

"Vance lives for boating and boating is good for Vance," said Dr. Lynch. "When he returned from this cruise it was so clear that he learned new physical skills, gained more self-confidence, and built a store of many pleasant memories." Lynch said the cruise, for Vance and for him, too, was like visiting a church of the great outdoors. Dolphins surfed the bow wave. Pelicans rode the thermal astern. Magnificent frigatebirds soared overhead.

"Vance told me he truly feels alive when he's boating," said Hansen. "He's one of our favorite customers and we hope to see him again and again."

Clark can no longer drive his BMW, but he can still cruise, still feel the wind in his face. The voyage continues.

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Marinatown Marina 26° 38.5'N 81° 53.0'W
Burnt Store Marina 26° 45.71' N 82° 04.20'W


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