Juan Carlos Gil has been boating for more than 20 years. His love of the water was realized at the age of seven when he stepped on a boat for the first time.
“Boating means happiness and being able to be free and enjoy life,” Gil said.
Experience Gil’s passion for the water in this new video from Miami.
The 34-year-old Gil was born in Medellin, Colombia with cerebral palsy – he’s also legally blind, but neither his physical or visual impairment has prevented him from boating. What has been a challenge for the Miami resident, however, is that his wheelchair prevents him from getting into the driver’s seat on most vessels. But on a recent afternoon in Miami, with the help of George Poveromo, Host of World of Saltwater Fishing on NBC Sports, Gil left his wheelchair on the dock and with the help of Poveromo, grabbed hold of a joystick piloting system from Mercury Marine and experienced an afternoon that he’ll never forget.
“Finally an accessibility,” said Gil of the joystick technology. “Mercury Marine has made this technology where it has revolutionized what boating is. The joystick has changed my view on what is possible.”
“It has empowered me to be out on the water and be on an equal playing field with everyone else. You can’t beat what Mercury Marine has done. It has changed my view on boating.”
For the past year, Gil has employed by Florida Reading and Vision Technology, a Ft. Lauderdale based technology company for the visually impaired. He’s also worked at a non-for-profit organization, Shake-A-Leg Miami and when he’s not working or boating, he’s also a certified scuba diver and is featured in the Dive Heart Instructor Manual.
In addition, Gil has also been appointed by the Mayor of Miami to CODI, the Commission on Disability Issues for Miami Dade County. Gil also serves as an advocate for retrofitting vehicles within public school systems.