Treasure Coast boat captain makes helping injured veterans his mission
By Jan Lindsey Friday, September 23, 2011
STUART — Joe Canney got a second chance at life when he survived a heart attack last year, and before he was even out of the hospital, he decided he wanted to use it to give back. Canney, 63, who describes himself as a retired teacher and a lifelong boater with a 100-ton, unlimited-passenger U.S. Coast Guard captain's license, wants to take disabled individuals, injured American veterans, and their families or caregivers out on the water.
"I have found in my own personal life that boating is very relaxing, almost therapeutic, and I thought this is what I can do for these people," Canney said. "I can't change these people's physical limitations, but I can give them a couple of hours of enjoyment." He has the plan. He has the nonprofit designation from the Internal Revenue Service for Dream Waves America Inc. He has two partners whose skills complement his own. Everybody volunteers.
Now comes the hard part: money. "There is so much need out there that it is incredible," Canney said. "Everybody's got their own situation, their own problems.” The money end of it has been tough. Somewhere out there, there is a key." Canney said he has been spending his days contacting local businesses and veterans organizations, and writing legislators. "You never know," he said. "It is like an actor or an actress. When they're starting out, they take any job available. You never know who's at the theater that night that's the connection you need."
n the process of making all those contacts, he has located most of the things he will eventually need, such as storage for a boat and someone willing to help rework the vessel so it is handicap-accessible. A local certified public accountant donated his time to help with the nonprofit filing papers. He has received a few cash donations and has set up a website, dreamwavesamerica.com, to accept more. You can't donate a suitable boat through PayPal, but he'd gladly accept one of those too.
Canney acknowledges that he may have to shift his plan or scale it back as events unfold. But he is certain of one thing: "This is what I am going to do for the rest of my life."
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New nonprofit to offer boat rides to disabled veterans, others
STUART — A $10,000 donation from a Stuart woman has enabled Dream Waves America to purchase a 1987 Chris-Craft Amerosport Express, said Joe Canney, president and treasurer of the fledgling nonprofit that will offer recreational boat rides to disabled veterans and others with mobility issues. A door large enough to accommodate even the widest wheelchair and a boarding ramp are being built now, Canney said, and the boat should be ready by the middle of the month.
Canney declined to release the Stuart donor's name. In the meantime, Dream Waves is raffling off a smaller boat — a 21-foot 1985 Wellcraft with a 1989 200-hp Evinrude motor and a 2002 aluminum trailer — to raise money to run its operation.
For a $20 donation, you can have a ticket.
"We're only selling 500 so people have a good shot of winning something," Canney said.
Four cash prizes of $300, $200, $125 and $75 will also be presented, he said.
If all the tickets sell, $2,000 will be given to the Martin County Veterans Council to help that organization with the purchase of a hospital transport van, he said. The drawing will be at 8 p.m. Dec. 16 at Duffy's Stuart South, 6431 S.E. Federal Highway, Stuart.
Canney was inspired to launch Dream Waves America after surviving a heart attack last year. He decided he wanted to use his second chance at life to give back. The lifelong boater with a 100-ton, unlimited-passenger U.S. Coast Guard captain's license partnered with two other Stuart men, Fred Ambrosio and Jim Dean, to start the nonprofit. The three donate their time, Canney said, so any money given to the organization is used to cover the cost of operations.
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