Boating is freedom on the water for wheelchair bound Miami woman

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Kerry Gruson takes to the waves with the Mercury Marine Joystick Piloting System

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“It was so much fun being able to control the joystick,” explained Gruson. “There is so much power and so much force.”

For the past 41 years, Kerry Gruson of Miami, Florida has been wheelchair-bound, and while she has lost the ability to manipulate most of her body, the one thing she hasn't lost is her passion for the water.

Gruson, a veteran journalist for the New York Times, Boston Globe and Chicago Sun-Times among others, was on her way to cover the Vietnam War in 1974 when she was attacked and choked nearly to death. The incident left her permanently disabled at just 26 years old. But over the past four decades, her love for boating has grown, and she has constantly found a way to get out on the water.

During the recent 2015 Miami International Boat Show, Gruson and a friend, John Muir, had the opportunity to take to the waves and climbed aboard a Mako 284, powered by twin Mercury 350hp Warm Fusion White Verado outboard engines Joystick Piloting for Outboards.

As Gruson said, it’s a chance for her to “rule the waves with controlled freedom.”

See Kerry’s story from Miami here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lh8gIj_FOss&feature=youtu.be

“It’s an indescribably good feeling,” said Muir, a long-time friend of Gruson. “It gives Kerry the freedom to take family and friends on the water. It opens up the world to Kerry.”

Gruson has limited use of her arms and legs but with assistance, is able to wrap her hand around the joystick and feel a sense of freedom that was otherwise taken from her.

“It was so much fun being able to control the joystick,” explained Gruson with help from Muir. “There is so much power and so much force.”

Through the years, Gruson has participated in events with Active Disabled Americans, Winterfest Boat Parade and the Boating & Beach Bash for People with Disabilities. A documentary on Gruson’s life that premiered in 2011 captures her incredible spirt and love for the water. Unfortunately, her condition has worsened since the story was filmed — but she is able to fully communicate via email.

For Gruson, her time on the water is now more valuable than ever leaving her with more time to as she says, “rule the waves and dance with the wind.”

“There is a sense of freedom to be able to operate the boat,” Gruson said. “It’s a dream that you can’t fathom.”

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Lee Gordon