A Good Man Has Left On His Final Sail

I met sailmaker Dennis Vallenga as we were preparing Clarity for the 2011 Everglades Challenge, and as sometimes happens, it was because of a tragic event  that we met.  On October 26th 2010, Larsen Hunt was murdered by her ex-boyfriend, leaving behind her young son Aidric, who is Autistic.  My wife and I decided to dedicate our trip to her memory, and to help her son.  We contacted a number of sailmakers with the idea of getting a sail made that could be signed for a donation to Aidric’s assistance fund, and Dennis contacted me within 24 hours, very enthusiastically offering his help.  Within a week, we had come up with the design for the sail, and he had it finished.  Not only that, but Dennis insisted on doing some work on my mainsail as well, installing extra reef points and some reinforcements to the head of the sail.  He helped me get into the Davis Island Yacht Club for a presentation and signing, which alone raised well over $500.00 for Aidric, and was even at the beach when we launched.  He well and truly cared about not only what we were doing, but who and why we were trying to help.  It’s not often these days that you meet someone with such a sincere desire to help others.
Clarity, flying Aidric's Sail

Clarity, flying Aidric’s Sail

Dennis was in a good jovial mood each and every time I talked with him, and his humor often reminded my of Jay Ward, chief cartoonist of the old Rocky and Bullwinkle show… you just knew there was always a little more humor there, just waiting to sneak out of him.  I wish I had met him long before I did, as I suspect there were lots of great stories to be told.  My best to his family and friends, and all those blessed to have met him.
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One Response to A Good Man Has Left On His Final Sail

  1. Rick Allwein says:

    Mike, are you the mod on the sailbird yahoo group? I’m not sure where I got the idea that you were. I’ve been trying to join but yahoo doesn’t recognize my google voice phone nr (as a mobile or regular phone). They won’t allow me to sign in without a phone nr????

    I just bought a sailbird (I’m sure you’ve seen this one before) and am elbow deep in repairs…

    Not sure how to resolve this silly yahoo thing.

    Thanks,
    Rick
    Port Charlotte

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