Don Backe was paralyzed in an auto accident but wanted to ensure that people with disabilities had access to boating activities on Chesapeake Bay. He founded Chesapeake Region Accessible Boating, known as CRAB, in 1991, and for the last three decades, the non-profit has provided sailing opportunities for the physically and developmentally challenged.
Backe died in 2013 and was succeeded by Paul Bollinger, who has built on his legacy and made CRAB a nationally recognized organization. Acknowledging all that CRAB has done for the sport, US Sailing honored the group with the Robie Pierce Award. Legendary sailor Gary Jobson presented the award to Bollinger last week during US Sailing’s Leadership Conference awards ceremony on the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Midway in San Diego.
“This year we will celebrate the 30th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and what better way for US Sailing to recognize our dedicated volunteers and adaptive sailing programs during this historic year,” Bollinger said in a statement.
Robie Pierce had multiple sclerosis and won several national and world disabled sailing regattas. He served as a chair for the US Sailing Sailors with Special Needs Committee, now called the Para Sailing Committee.
“We are honored to have earned US Sailing’s Robie Pierce Award as a testament to our efforts,” CRAB president Brad LaTour sad in the statement. “This year we are embarking on building the country’s premier adaptive boating center in Annapolis, and we will be greatly expanding the CRAB sailing programs and fleet for greater numbers of people with disabilities in the region.”