Sometimes the best medicine can’t be picked up at a pharmacy. Dose of the Coast founder, Ashley Ferguson, saw this first hand after her father, Donald Walker, Sr., was diagnosed with liver cancer. Walker was avid fisherman and loved being on the water, but as his illness progressed fishing trips became fewer. Seeing this, Ferguson took it upon herself to get her dad back on the water and chartered a boat to get him there.
Their outing was nothing out of the ordinary. There were no prize fish caught or limits reached, but even though there was nothing remarkable about the day, Donald Walker, Sr. reminisced on it often and thanked Ferguson for the rest of his life.
“I saw the lift that it gave my dad,” said Ferguson. “It put the wind in his sails and two years later it was still giving him courage.” Ferguson said being out on the water reminded her father of what he was still capable of and, for that day, he could forget about his diagnosis and focus on living life.
After her father passed, Ferguson felt a need to give the experience of that fishing trip to others facing illness. And Dose of the Coast was born.
Dose of the Coast is a nonprofit organization that offers free chartered fishing and sailing trips to people impacted by illness. In its inaugural year the program has provided fishing and sailing trips to over 60 people and their families. Ferguson hopes to bring that number to 150 by the end of 2017. All trips are provided by generous donor funding and through sponsorships.
Dose of the Coast provides fishing, sunset cruises and sailing trips for participants and up to three guests. Each excursion is different, offering an individualized experience for everyone, Ferguson said. The trips are designed to give patients a chance to take a break from appointments and medication and focus instead on the adventure at hand.
Ferguson said working with Mary Bird Perkins – Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Center has given her a chance to learn about the importance of survivorship programs for cancer patients as a part of the continuum of care. “I read the Cancer Center’s mission: ‘Lessening the burden of cancer,’ and I knew that’s what I wanted to do.”
For more information about Dose of the Coast and upcoming events visit http://www.doseofthecoast.org/.