A local Captain is one of three people nationwide nominated for this year's Old Pulteney Maritime Heroes Award.
The award is given to someone who has made significant contributions to educate and encourage sailing in their community.
Working with the Maritime Heritage Alliance, Captain Rorke Miller has been able to provide local at-risk teens with unique opportunities.
He has been the director for the past three years of SAIL (Success Always Involves Learning) Champion - a one-of-a-kind-program. Kids are given the opportunity to learn how to sail a historic tall ship ("Champion") while going through on-board therapy. Not only does it give the kids a chance to receive some counseling for their own mental health issues, but also to learn teamwork and other life skills.
"One of the biggest rewards that I've had is seeing the success of the kids that I worked with in year one, and then seeing how they grow in year two, and then where they were at in year three," said Miller. "I know the program works, it's a beautiful thing, and I'm so blessed to have been a part of it."
Miller said he welcomes SAIL Champion into its 5th season, and hopes to see it re-produced in other communities. His hope is for others to see the benefits of infusing therapy with the experience of boating.
"We've seen a huge drop in the symptoms that youth are experiencing - a 70-80 percent drop in their psychological symptoms - which compared to most programs, you're lucky if you get 10-20 percent drop," stated Joseph Sanok, the owner and counselor for Mental Wellness Counseling, and who nominated Captain Miller. "Rorke's personality that he brings, as well as his innovative way of teaching, helps that program be even more effective than had he not been a part of it."
Miller has also launched RED8 Boatworks. The program is a school that helps at-risk teens, along with taking a therapeutic approach to helping them, by having them build their own paddleboard.
Captain Miller needs your vote to win the award! You can vote online here anytime up until December 1.
Click here to view a video about the SAIL Champion program.