Local Team Sailing in Renowned Figawi Race to Raise Money for Veterans

By: Liam Martin
Published on: May 25, 2022 / 5:59 AM / CBS Boston

The world-famous Figawi sailing race is coming to the Cape this weekend, launching Friday off Hyannis. In the mix will be a local team fighting for much more than a sailing title. Business partners Gary Terry and Chris Kristian are hoping to make waves far beyond this race.

“Operation Deep Dive is a deep dive into the root causes and the reporting on veteran suicide,” Kristian told WBZ.

Deep Dive is one of the many projects being undertaken by the non-profit America’s Warrior Partnership (AWP), an organization with the express purpose of preventing veteran suicide.

“AWP is really trying to put their finger on all the root causes and how to better push out treatment to the community,” Kristian said.

AWP is pouring resources into research and works to connect struggling veterans with mental health services and other help.

For Kristian, the mission is personal. He served 20 years in the military and has lost eight veteran friends to suicide.

“A lot of what we asked our young combat troops to do was very difficult and very stressful and when you come back and take the uniform off and get into the civilian world, you don’t have that same support system,” he said.

Now his mission, and the mission of Terry and the rest of the crew of their boat “Defender,” is to combat mental health stigma for vets, and to fundraise enough to make sure that help is there.

“Just ask for help,” he recommends. “Don’t go dark and it seems like when you’re in that spiral, it’s tough to ask for help. But ask for help.”

Kristian and Terry co-own The Westport Group, an insurance company in Braintree, and they’ve worked to get the entire company on board with the AWP mission. Thus far they’ve raised nearly $50,000, and they hope to hit $60,000 by the start of the Figawi race.

“I feel like we’ve got to do a lot more,” Terry told WBZ. “Fifty-thousand needs to be $500,000 needs to be 5 million.”

“Those who served deserve every bit of that,” he added.

If you’d like to learn more about The Westport Group’s race in the Figawi and their partnership with AWP, click here.

For the direct link to donate to AWP, click here.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached by calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for more resources visit their website. For more mental health resources, click here.

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