Phil Martin

Daily Point of Light # 3428 Mar 26, 2007

Phil Martin was one of the most active coaches certified in athletics when he was forced to retire from his job as Director of the Adaptive Recreation at Macon-Bib Parks and Recreation in 2003 because he has Multiple Sclerosis. But Phil loved his work so he found a way to stay involved by strictly volunteering and limiting the sport that he coached to sailing. Before being diagnosed with MS, Phil taught adaptive water skiing with the U. S. Disabled Water Ski Team—he was a pioneer in the sport. Concentrating on sailing, Phil has remained very active—he was chosen by Special Olympics Incorporated to go to Ireland as the Chief Safety Officer for the 2003 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Dublin. The sailing program in Macon, the first in the state, recruited athletes from Fayetteville, McDonough and other cities to training with Phil on Lake Tobesofkee.

Phil's charisma and success in recruiting hobie cats for the athletes to sail on, is matched by his dedication to helping those with disabilities. The sailing program has about 12-15 boats that the athletes practice on every Friday. He has been quite successful in fundraising purchasing equipment such as: life vest, lines, securing money for the athletes to travel to Biloxi, MS, and Alabama for the SE Regional Sailing competition. In September he organized the first multi-state competition in Georgia and with its great success the State office decided to turn it into a yearly event. Athletes came from Mississippi, North and South Carolina to compete at the event. The individuals with intellectual disabilities compete with a Unified Partner which is an athlete without a disability in pairs. Phil now serves as Local Coordinator for the Sailing Program of Macon, he serves on the Sports Council, and as a clinician, the term given to individuals who teach coaches clinics so other volunteers can learn how to work with disabled athletes in a sport and grow their program by adding new sports.

Phil's work with individuals with intellectual disabilities brings together members of the community to volunteer at the competitions and practices. This keeps this group from being isolated and helps bridge connections between the community and the disabled.