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30 | BoatU.S. Magazine DECEMBER 2017
Her parents purchased and customized a 22-foot pontoon boat for
wheelchair boarding and securing. A
start-up donation from Mom was added,
Dykstra says, and from there she dealt
with the machinations of starting a nonprofit corporation with insurance and
Dykstra and her best friend, Kaylin
Aditya, started going to local disability schools to provide information on
the boat rides that their new program,
the North East Therapeutic Boating
Organization (NETBO), planned to
offer. In June, NETBO began offering
free boat rides to disabled persons –
mentally, physically, emotionally, elderly, youth, and indigent people – with
Dykstra as skipper and Aditya, now vice
president and crew. They are accompanied by Dykstra’s therapy dog, a yellow
lab named Ella.
They hosted more than 20 trips in
their debut summer, Dykstra says.
“The youngest person was 14, the old-
est 79,” she says of her passengers, who
struggle with cerebral palsy, brain injuries,
brain tumors, and autism. On the three-
hour trip around the lake, Dykstra takes
them to beaches, spots to feed ducks, and
even a shoreside ice-cream shop.
“Sometimes they don’t want to leave,”
she says of her passengers. “Some don’t
talk, but they just seem a lot calmer on
the water. They seem very grateful to be
outside and enjoying a day out on a boat
because some normally don’t get to leave
their housing facility or have never been
on a boat before.”
With a successful debut season,
Dykstra says NETBO is a long-term
Boaters doing good
We’re looking for more inspirational
boaters, like Rebecca, who are giving
back to their communities. Email us at
Editor@BoatUS.com if you know some-
one who is using his or her passion for
boating to make others’ lives better.
ly funded entirely
and local resi-
dents. “We have
good community support,” she says. The
off season will be spent applying for
grants and developing fundraisers to
grow the program.
“It’s been fulfilling and satisfying to
see these people, who’ve struggled with
injuries their whole life, feel a little free
and happy on my boat,” she says. “It really
Dykstra says she
gets great satisfaction and fulfillment
from seeing people
feel free and happy
on her boat.