HWVT Celebrates Healthcare Heroes

HWVT Celebrates Healthcare Heroes


While our organization usually offers cancer patient support via therapeutic sailing excursions, Covid-19 has us pivoting to give back to healthcare heroes who serve the cancer community!

Please help us raise $10,000 to provide our community’s Healthcare Heroes with free private sailing excursions on beautiful Lake Champlain in Burlington, VT.

Healing Winds is so thankful for ALL Healthcare Heroes, who have risked everything to keep their communities safe and healthy. Instead of letting the pandemic stop us, we want to take care of the people who are taking care of us. 

If you are a Healthcare Hero who works in any department serving cancer patients in any capacity, we want to take YOU sailing!  If you know a Healthcare Hero who would benefit from leaving stress on the shore, PLEASE NOMINATE THEM TODAY!

Announcing HWVT’s New Lead Captain

Announcing HWVT’s New Lead Captain

Welcome Aboard, Lead Captain Kym Ketcham!

Healing Winds is so pleased to announce that Captain Kym Ketcham has joined our growing staff as Lead Captain. Last year, Kym was one of our most dedicated captains, taking more than 100 guests out on therapeutic, uplifting sailing excursions. Kym brings a wealth of experience and a passion for showing cancer patients a good time out on his beloved Lake Champlain.

Sailing is a way of life for Captain Ketcham. Well over fifty years ago on horribly hot summer days, Kym would hop on his bike, and, with the 400-acre family farm and its hay baler receding behind him, head toward his grandparent’s lake house ten miles away. His grandparents lived right on the lake and had something that Kym loved almost as much as he loved the lake: A sunfish sailboat.  Every chance he got, he’d sneak away to his beloved lake. He taught himself to sail and has been sailing ever since.

Captain Ketcham is no day sailor. He received his USCG Captain’s license in the early ’90s and has sailed in Tahiti and all over the Caribbean. “It’s my great fortune to have sailed many romantic island destinations,” he says, “I’ve faced and navigated nearly every sailing scenario out there, and my priority is simple: Fun and Safety.” For six years he lived a life most of us only dream about – living on his boat, sailing up and down the Eastern Seaboard in a yearly ritual: Summers in Vermont, winters in West Palm Beach.

After decades of sailing, Kym sold his sailboat and came home to help take care of the family farm in Hinesburg.  “I’d heard about this wonderful nonprofit that has been around for six years, who takes people with cancer out on the lake,” he said, “And I know from experience because cancer has touched my family with my father and brother both being survivors, that being out on the lake with the sun, wind, and waves is so uplifting and healthy. I wanted to help people with cancer go out and enjoy that, so this opportunity is very special to me.”

A favorite captain of our guests, Kym has a reputation for being a blast to be with. Guest Greg L. said, “Thank you Healing Winds! Kym was extraordinary. Best day of the summer! A few more days like this one, and “cure” would be the word of the day!”

Captain Ketcham is eager to begin taking guests out on Gypsy Wind, a vessel donated to Healing Winds in 2017. Crew training has already begun!

If you are interested in a crew or captain opportunity with Healing Winds, you may go to our website to volunteer www.HWVT.org or email us at CaptainKetch@hwvt.org

Up next: An interview with Captain Ketcham, answering all your questions!

Please email all questions to info@HWVT.org.


How Can We Help You?

How Can We Help You?

Nature entertains, inspires, teaches and heals. It relieves stress, lowers cortisol levels and can allow you to enter awe-inspired flow states more readily.

At its very core, Healing Winds Vermont is about offering beautiful escapes in nature through our free three-hour sails on picturesque Lake Champlain. We sincerely hope to offer our sailing excursions this year and encourage you to nominate loved ones that could benefit from this healing experience. To ensure the safety for all, this will likely be later in the season. You can trust that we will keep our eyes on the horizon and be a dependable resource for you, no matter which way the winds may blow.

As a past nominee, I am grateful to have enjoyed the magic of Healing Winds Vermont first-hand and am honored to take on the role of Executive Director during this unprecedented time. I look forward to building upon the inspiring work of Healing Winds Vermont, and serving Vermonters in the highest and best way. I invite you to learn more about my story HERE.

Photo credit: Kathleen Carey, Healing Winds Vermont Volunteer and mask-maker extraordinaire. 

Thinking Differently

During this unique time of collective uncertainty and sadness due to COVID-19, we are looking for creative and alternative ways to be a resource for you and your families. Please like our Healing Winds Vermont Facebook page, and share some of the things you are doing right now for self-care and giving back during this period of difficulty. We want to hear about approaches that are helping you, so that we can share with other past and present nominees, their families and the community.

Having Cancer is Hard Enough

Moving through cancer during the new world of COVID-19 layers on its own additional challenges and stressors. Acknowledging the fear that these drastic changes cause can help. Make a practice of regularly expressing your emotions, be excessively gentle with yourself, and as my wise cancer counselor Kathy McBeth likes to say, “Keep your head over your feet.”

Share What Interests You

As for new and virtual offerings, we want to hear what, if any, you might find of interest:

  • Calming the Mind
  • Stress Relief
  • Enhanced Energy
  • Getting Better Sleep
  • More Online Resources for Nominees and their Families
  • Being More Connected with the Healing Winds Vermont Community
  • Recorded Guided Meditations
  • Participating in Fun Escapes (from the safety of your home)

We’ll soon be sending out a survey via email. If you haven’t yet subscribed to our e-newsletter or email updates, please do so here. You can depend on us to contact you with helpful and interesting news and updates, plus requests for feedback on how we can continue to serve you better.

Some Ways I’ve Been Reducing Stress

While staying home and doing my part in trying to flatten the curve, I’ve been learning all kinds of new tech platforms and setting (and resetting) boundaries in multiple areas of my life. I’m trying to eat more of the foods that nourish me, go on a news diet, and go to bed a little earlier (all easier said than done). Listed below are some things that have been effective in taking the edge off for me:

  • Walking outside on nearby nature trails and around my neighborhood
  • Hugging my two cats (much to their chagrin!) and husband (he’s happier than they are about this)
  • Writing letters (some to send, some to heal); journaling
  • Listening to music – Classical during the day (Baroque Adagio is particularly good for concentration with lots of great choices on YouTube) and fun, mood lifting 80’s music in the evening!
  • Practicing gratitude – Specifically, a “Three Best Things” daily recap with my husband each evening
  • Connecting with loved ones through video-chats, phone calls and emails
  • Quieting “busy mind” with short meditations and gentle movement practices like yoga and qigong

A Rising Tide Lifts All Boats

Finally, we want to thank you for maintaining your past connection with us – whether you have been a nominee, family member, donor, volunteer or community partner. For those of you who are just now learning about Healing Winds Vermont, we invite you to join us during this landmark year of change. We’re all in this together.

All of us at Healing Winds Vermont remain a resource of respite for you and your families.



Donation of New Vessel

Donation of New Vessel

Donation of New Vessel Gypsy Wind

This May Healing Winds received an incredibly generous donation of a 39 foot O’Day vessel appropriately named Gypsy Wind. On May 20th, Founder, Suzanne Johnson and a group of dedicated Healing Winds crew members journeyed to Pilot’s Point, in Westbrook, CT, to deliver Gypsy Wind to her new home on Lake Champlain. The donation of this vessel will allow us to expand our mission and grow our capacity to make a difference in in the lives of those being challenged by cancer – one sail at a time!

Follow Gypsy Wind’s journey to Lake Champlain here:

Leaving Pilot’s Point!

Maiden Voyage from New Home at Burlington Community Boathouse

Gypsy Wind’s First Guest Sail!


2017  Season is Underway!

2017 Season is Underway!







Healing Winds kicked off our 4th sailing season on June 15th with our first guest sail of the season! We were honored to sail with the Brosseau family. We hope you enjoyed your sail!

To date we have 80 nominations for the 2017 season… More than any previous season!

If you would like to nominate yourself or a loved one for a sail with Healing Winds please do so here: