The Corinthian Sailing Club has been floating the waters of White Rock Lake for more than 50 years. Recently, however, the club made waves in China when the group donated money to 18-year-old Kendrick Lawrence, allowing him to compete on the Special Olympics World Games Sailing Team.

Lawrence, in turn, made the sailing club proud when he brought home the gold.

Qualifying in Texas against 60 students and in the United States against 400 more, Lawrence’s slot on the two-man team came after three years of hard work — and the Corinthian Sailing Club took an active role from the beginning.

In addition to Lawrence’s skills, he needed what is known as a unified partner to sail with him. That was easy, as Corinthian Sailing Club member Steve Comen has been sailing with Lawrence since 2005 at the first Texas State Special Olympics Championship in Houston. Because of Lawrence’s intellectual disability, coach Sharon Presley says, he needed a unified partner who doesn’t have a disability. So Comen stepped up to travel with Lawrence to China.

The next obstacle was the money to get there. While Lawrence’s student council at Duncanville High School helped to raise some of the money, he also was required to raise $2,000 on his own.

“Kendrick comes from a single-parent home with a baby brother who is just two years old, and there is not much money,” Presley says. “In fact, I think what money he is making at Kroger goes to help pay the rent.”

Again, the Corinthian Sailing Club came through with the financial push Lawrence needed. Comen’s initial request to the club’s board for $500 was easily and unanimously approved.

“I’ve been involved five or six years with the Texas Special Olympics,” says neighbor and board member Charles Manicchia. “We sail with athletes who are involved, and all in all, they are an outstanding group of kids. They work very hard at learning to sail, and the club believes each and every one of them truly deserves all we can give them.”

Corinthian Sailing Club members proved true to Mancchia’s statement when Comen ran into dead ends looking for a corporate sponsor. As the fundraising deadline approached, Comen turned again to club members with an e-mail requesting the funds to cover his and Lawrence’s trip.

“Within a week, I had received enough from individual club members to reach our combined $4,000 commitment,” Comen says.

Click to sign up for the Advocate's weekly news digest and be the first to know what’s happening in Lakewood/East Dallas.