Catherine “Ann” Griffin embarked Prinsendam Jan. 2, 2009, for the Grand South America adventure in a wheelchair that she had been in since 1999. She would walk a bit around her apartment but whenever outside would not chance a step!
But she had a strong desire to get to the Penguin Colony on the Falkland Islands and knew her motorized wheelchair wasn’t going to cut it. So, she began tentatively walking the Lower Promenade deck for a few steps at a time holding on tightly to the railing for support. As her confidence increased she let go of the railing and developed a sailor’s rolling walk. Lo and behold she went to the Falklands and the trip was a marvelous success.
And her confidence and her muscle strength continued to grow. The benefits were not only to Ms. Griffin, as another passenger on board, “Bill,” in an identical wheelchair noticed her progress. Ms. Griffin isn’t sure how long Bill had been in his chair but his wife came up to her and stated that “she had energized Bill to begin to try to walk too.” Through the course of the 70-day cruise Ms. Griffin was further inspired by Bill’s joy at the prospect of walking again.
Bill went home at the end of the journey informing Ms. Griffin that he was going to buy a treadmill to continue to build his strength as well, and this just overjoyed Ms. Griffin. What started out as a personal goal had affected someone else so deeply, and originally she really hadn’t thought of the consequences beyond herself. When this happened she was beyond thrilled.
Ms. Griffin stayed on the ms Prinsendam for the Grand Med adventure which began March 11, 2009. She continued walking and even to her own amazement (and when she talks about it loads of chuckles) she eventually got out on the dance floor to a hearty round of applause. She continued on her quest to enjoy the incredible places we visited.
Ms. Griffin had never been on a cruise before these Grand Adventures – she just wanted to get away from the winter in Toronto. She really didn’t have any expectations about cruising and was open to whatever happened. The icing on the cake was taking part in the Susan G. Komen Walk for the Cure that each ship does each cruise for the benefit of the organization. She was able to do a symbolic lap around the deck in honor of her mother who had died of breast cancer. It was beyond her wildest dreams to have been able to participate.
Ms. Griffin goes home to summer in Toronto full of confidence and looking forward to further developing her walking skills and coming back on another cruise.
Elaine is the future cruise consultant aboard Prinsendam.