It isn’t often that the sport of sailing makes a story in a mostly “ball sports” magazine like Sports Illustrated (SI) said Piers Park Sailing Center’s Maureen McKinnon Tucker. But there she was in the pages of this month’s SI in a feature story that also highlights her skipper, Nick Scandone’s, who lost his battle with Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS).
The article, which can be found at sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1163721/1/index.htm#top, track Scandone’s life from childhood, diagnoses with ALS, partnership with McKinnon-Tucker and, against all conceivable odds, their miraculous gold medal win at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Bejing.
“Please take the time to read this article, I promise you will not regret the time spent,” said McKinnon-Tucker. “The story is about Nick (Scandone) and his battle with ALS, which to me he conquered as well as anyone could have. He lived to sail, he breathed to sail and he conserved all he had to make it with me to the Beijing Games.”
Sadly, Scandone died on January 2, 2009. However, before he died he was here in East Boston at the Sailing Center.
“We were lucky to have him grace us here on a race night when he schooled the fleet,” said McKinnon-Tucker. “All of us who knew him, and those who never did, all miss him. As the time draws near to the holidays, please take with you the lessons Nick taught all of us on both on land and at sea.”
McKinnon-Tucker and Scandone, took gold in the SKUD-18 Sailing event at Qingdao Olympic Sailing Centre during day seven of the Paralympic Games.
It was the first gold medal win for the U.S. Paralympic Sailing Team and McKinnon-Tucker will go down in the history books as the first ever woman to not only make the team but the first woman to win gold in the Paralympic Sailing Regatta.
The Piers Park Sailing Center held a medal celebration at the Hyatt Hotel at Logan when she returned from Beijing. Mayor Thomas Menino and others were on hand to congratulate McKinnon-Tucker on her achievement.
McKinnon-Tucker and Scandone won the U.S. Trials to represent the U.S. in the 2008 Paralympic Games.
“I set a goal in 2002 that I would represent my country in the highest level of the sport – The Paralympic Games.” said Tucker of her accomplishment. “Our team finished 3rd in 2003, losing the U.S. Trials for Athens, Greece and I left heartbroken. I took time out for a second child and returned in 2006 to competition.”
Tucker had the honor of making the U.S. Disabled Sailing Team five times, but this is the first time she won the U.S. Trials with new teammate and skipper, Scandone.
Tucker was the first woman to make the U.S. team and is now the first woman in Paralympic Sailing to represent the USA and win a gold.
In 2005, the Piers Park Sailing Center was granted funding from the Lead to Opportunities for Youth with Disabilities initiative to design and develop youth sailing programs that specifically include young people with disabilities. The sailing center used this generous support to expand the number of children with disabilities served; expand the depth of contact between trained instructors and children with disabilities; include children with disabilities in the skill and leadership development benefits offered in sailing center programs; establish collaborations with disability organizations and provide professional development for all staff.