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Making Boating Accessible to the Disabled

Mick Nealey knows how hard it can be to get out on the water if you have a disability. The charter boat captain contracted polio when he was two years old and needs two crutches to get around.

He started offering inclusive and adaptive charters 30 years ago and two years ago teamed up with Ken Ostebo, the executive director of the nonprofit Active Disabled Americans, to get more people with physical disabilities out on boats. Nealey has a 28-foot pontoon boat, Unbound, which is wheelchair-accessible and equipped with a special lift to get people in and out of the water.

Ostebo says the charters have been life-changing for customers with limited mobility and a godsend for their caregivers. “For me, almost every trip is tear-filled,” he says of the feeling he gets from watching disabled charter guests enjoying everything Florida Bay has to offer.

You can read more about Nealey and Ostebo’s effort to expand water access for disabled people on the Keys Weekly website and at activedisabledamericans.org

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