Justin “Judd” Goldman was seventeen years old when he suffered a disabling bone disease. After realizing that there were few sports that he could participate in, he discovered sailing. During the next fifty-eight years he competed successfully in many races throughout the world, including over twenty-five Chicago-Mackinac Races, a 333-mile challenge from Chicago to Mackinac Island, Michigan. He founded an Olympic one-design class of sailboats in Chicago, the Dragon class. In 1989, at the age of seventy-five, Judd passed away at a Naples, Florida boatyard.
In 1990, Judd’s wife, Sliv, son Peter and daughter Judy established the Judd Goldman Adaptive Sailing Foundation (JGASF) as a public/private partnership with the Chicago Park District. Today, the adaptive sailing program consists of eight Freedom Independence 20’s, eight Sonars, and four 2.4 meter sailboats. Over one thousand participants experience the joy and independence of sailing each year.
In 1992 the JGASF, in partnership with Chicago Yacht Club, founded the North American Challenge Cup (NACC) for sailors with disabilities. The NACC and the JGASF are proud to have been chosen by US Sailing for twelve years as the host to the national sailing championship for disabled sailors, now named the US Disabled Sailing Championship.
The Independence Cup, founded by JGASF, is a premier regatta for sailors with disabilities. With three classes of boats offering singlehanded, doublehanded and triplehanded racing, the entire professionally maintained fleet of 20 boats are available at no cost to competitors. The regatta is held in downtown Chicago at Burnham Harbor with nearby 4-star hotel accommodations for visiting sailors, both domestic and foreign, courtesy of Hilton Hotels. Bus transportation is underwritten by Cook-Illinois Corporation. Travel Grants, the Annual Independence Gala Dinner, special Columbia Yacht Club barbecue and the Awards Dinner helps to make this event a leading U.S. disabled sailing event.
In 2001, the Foundation embarked on a pilot program with the Chicago Park District designed to teach sailing to Chicago inner-city youth. Ten 7’7″ Vanguard Pram sailboats were purchased for use at the beautifully renovated, city water-fed lagoons. Offering an unequaled environment and an extremely rare experience for a big city recreational program, this unique approach brings the program to the neighborhood rather than the neighborhood to the program. The goal for this inner-city youth program is identical to our current mission…helping people to achieve self-esteem and independence.