PCHS’s Charlie Sims teams up with Utah’s School for the Blind in Washington water race

TACOMA, Wash. — In its sixth year, the Seventy 48 race in a Washington waterway had Park City teenager Charlie Sims teaming up on Saturday with Salt Lake City’s Utah Schools for the Deaf and Blind.

Sims at PCHS. Photo: Heather Sims

He returned from the successful therapeutic recreation adventure the day before his Park City High School graduation ceremony.

Charlie centered between his parents. Photo: Heather Sims

128 teams left Foss Waterway Seaport in Tacoma to paddle, row and use human powered craft to complete the 70 miles in 48 hours to Port Townsend. Sims was part of the Utah School for the Blind crew in their outrigger canoe called Spirit Dancer.

Sims was featured in the video below from the Washington television news.

Eight students with varying visual impairment from fully blind to conditions like Charlie, who has Nystagmus, an involuntary movement of the eyes that cause his eyes to shake, teamed up with eight chaperones to complete the journey in 36 hours and 15 minutes. Out of the 128 craft only 81 finished the grueling race.  

The Utah Team. Photo: Heather Sims

“I really enjoyed the race and would definitely recommend and love to do stuff like this again,” Sims told TownLift. “I want to try to chaperone next year.” 

Charlie and his crew have been training since October to ensure they have the strength and stamina to finish.  Teamwork is a factor for completing the race successfully. 

Local law enforcement were out on patrol in the water all night escorting for safety.


First Overall: Team Beasts from the East, 10hrs 42mins
Facing Backwards: Team Salty Beaver Rowing Club, 14hrs 4mins
By Yourself: Team Patty Party, 14hrs 23mins
Standing Up: Team SeaTownSupperClub, 17hrs 11mins

Beginning their paddle journey. Photo: Heather Sims

The Park City Schools Mountain Bike Team officially thanked Sims’ mom, Heather, when this fall’s season ended, as she and Charlie have been instrumental in its exponential winning attitude and just plain winning.

Her day job is with Youth Sports Alliance (YSA) where he began his ski/snowboarding and now works at Park City Mountain as an instructor assistant.

Volunteering is in Charlie’s DNA as Heather serves as the president of the Park City High School Parent Teacher Student Organization.

Charlie leaves PCHS having earned a a Community Scholarship for the Student Service Award as he looks forward to the fall where he’ll attend the University of Utah majoring in Mechanical Engineering. 

All photos courtesy of Heather Sims/Utah School for the Blind.

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