BEST LOCAL GIRLS MADE GOOD

Kerry Gruson and Karen Mitchell

 BEST LOCAL GIRLS MADE GOOD Kerry Gruson and Karen Mitchell National sailing champions. Two years running. Both disabled. The event was the U.S. Independence Cup/North American Challenge Cup, an official US SAILING championship regatta hosted this past August by the Chicago Yacht Club. Competing in the Freedom Independence 20 class of specially designed boats that include an able-bodied assistant, long-time crewmates Gruson (from Miami) and Mitchell (now living in Deerfield Beach) overcame unfavorable weather and equipment malfunctions to capture the title. Along the way they've shown the world that hard work and determination can overcome any obstacle. Mitchell, an occupational therapist, suffered a broken neck as a teen. Today, following two successful battles against cancer, she is confined to a wheelchair but has some use of her upper body. Gruson is a veteran writer for the New York Times's Miami bureau. Three decades ago she was assaulted by an interview subject, a disturbed Vietnam War veteran who, in a psychotic rage, choked her so severely she nearly died. The attack left her virtually immobile. Such extreme adversity might overwhelm most mortals, but it has done nothing to dampen the competitive spirit of these women, both of whom are deeply involved with the Shake-a-Leg sailing program in Coconut Grove (www.shakealeg.org) and both of whom are universal champions in our book.

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