A Burnaby organization that helps families around the province will be getting a little extra wind in its sails this summer.
A six-man crew will travel from Victoria to Maui aboard the Ballymack for a three-week yacht race starting on July 5.
Along the way, they'll be raising funds for the Burnaby-based Down Syndrome Research Foundation.
The choice was a personal one for crew member Allard Ockeloen, whose eldest daughter, Emily, has Down syndrome. The nine-year-old is in fourth grade at her local public school on Bowen Island, and loves books, music, movies and swimming.
"I want people to know and experience the true gift of knowing someone with Down syndrome," said Ockeloen. "I read an article from a parent raising a child in Holland; she was convinced that if every family had a child with Down syndrome, the world would be a better place. I can tell you it certainly wouldn't be a worse world to live in."
Ockeloen says he and the team are hoping their participation in the race will raise not just funds, but also awareness about the work of the foundation.
The organization was started in 1995, and offers programs for individuals with Down syndrome from infancy to adulthood, such as baby sign language programs, speech therapy, literacy and social development programs.
The Ballymack is captained by Mike Cormack, with John Letchford, R.C. Myles, Walter Norman, John Verver and Ockeloen as crew.
The team is sponsored by Development Analytics Inc. To follow the team, see http: //ballymack. blogspot.ca, and to support their DSRF fundraising efforts, see http: // dsrf.kintera.org/vic-maui.
The annual Victoria to Maui International Yacht Race has been running every second year since 1968, running from Victoria to Lahaina, Maui over some 2,308 nautical miles.