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Sailing Heals gives cancer patients special days

Amy Snow (right), before her death on Oct. 4, sailed with captain Gary Gregory thanks to Sailing Heals, a Haverhill nonprofit that gives cancer patients a trip on the water.

Sailing Heals

Amy Snow (right), before her death on Oct. 4, sailed with captain Gary Gregory thanks to Sailing Heals, a Haverhill nonprofit that gives cancer patients a trip on the water.

A DAY AT SEA: Amy Snow  of Hampton, N.H., and five of her closest friends and family, enjoyed a sail in waters off Nantucket in August, thanks to Sailing Heals, a nonprofit based in Haverhill. 

“She knew she only had a few weeks to live and wanted very much to share a sailing experience with her loved ones on an island that had so many special memories for her,” said Trisha Boisvert, executive director of the organization. “Sailing Heals was honored to deliver.”

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After the sail, Snow wrote on the group’s website, “Sailing Heals made my day special. Like Make A Wish — but for adults! Bless all for making Sailing Heals happen for me.”

Snow died on Oct. 4., at age 43, following a six-year battle with breast cancer. Her family has asked that donations in her memory be made to Sailing Heals.

Sailing Heals was founded in July 2011 by Boisvert and her twin sister, Michele Gallagher  of New York.

Its mission is to take cancer patients — at any stage of their disease or remission — and their caretakers out on the water for half a day of sailing and respite. The sail is sometimes followed by a lunch or waterside picnic.

“It taps into people’s lighter spirit,” said Boisvert, who lives in the Bradford section of Haverhill.

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It began with sails out of Marblehead and has grown into a program that includes excursions throughout Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Florida, and New York.

This past summer, a total of 200 patients — who are referred to as VIP guests — went sailing, with 60 of them taking part in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

Sailing Heals founding sponsor is Officine Panerai, a Swiss watch company, and the nonprofit has partnered with many organizations, such as Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center, Memorial Sloan-Kettering, the New England circuit of the Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge, Corinthian Yacht Club in Marblehead, and Nantucket Community Sailing.

Boisvert pairs boat owners and captains who volunteer their time and services with the cancer patients. Both groups can register on the website www.sailingheals.org

Boisvert said the patients “have a beautiful day and can get their mind off their problems. Our guests have found their days on the water to be profoundly important to the healing process.”

And she said, “The great thing we have found is the host captains get as much, if not more, out of it as the patients themselves. They are going out sailing anyway, so why not give someone a great day.”

Sailing Heals will host a fund-raising Blues Brunch from noon to 3 p.m. on Nov. 4 at the Boston Yacht Club on Marblehead Harbor. In addition to food and music, the event includes an auction. A few participants in the program and host captains will also speak.

Tickets are $65. For reservations, call 978-914-6609, or e-mail info@sailingheals.org, or visit www.sailingheals.org

WHO’S WHAT WHERE: Tobin Dominick  of Gloucester has been appointed board chairwoman for the North of Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau. Dominick operates the Cape Ann Marina Resort, which has been a family business since 1972, with her brother Drew.  She has been active in the local business community for many years. A graduate of the Carroll School of Management at Boston College, Dominick worked for Nantucket Nectars developing national accounts and event marketing for the West Coast prior to rejoining the family business. She and other new board members will be sworn in Nov. 14 at Endicott College in Beverly. . . . Erik Syvertson, a freshman at

Northern Essex Community College in Haverhill majoring in physical education, exercise science, and sports studies, was honored for his service to his country at the opening session of the American Association of Community College Trustees national conference recently held in Boston. A resident of Merrimac and 1997 graduate of Pentucket Regional High School, Syvertson served in the Air Force for 14 years until February. He enrolled at Northern Essex in the fall and plans to transfer to Salem State University, with a goal of becoming a physical education teacher.

Wendy Killeen can be reached at wdkilleen@gmail.com.

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