Local teen hopes to sail past troubled waters

Posted at 6:54 PM, Sep 14, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-14 18:54:26-04

Tyler Howell looks like a typical 18-year-old surrounded by a family who loves him with a whole future at his doorstep

"I've learned from my mistakes," said Tyler.

A life of crime and drugs beginning in the ninth-grade sent his life spiraling out of control. He said he had more than 30 arrests and his parents were desperate to save him.

"I would bet my life against it. I never thought we would be headed down this path ever," said his mother Andy.

Then, during Tyler's last court experience, he received information about an innovative program that helps the most troubled teens.

"It s a godsend," said Jerry Howell, Tyler's father.

Tyler was chosen to sail around the world in an innovative program called "Sail for Justice." It was  co-founded by Mark Hunter.

Hunter's own troubled path as teenager led him to start this charity right in our backyard of Sarasota.

"Sail for Justice" received hundreds of applicants from around the world for only seven slots to participate in the World Atlantic Rally. One of those spots is going to Tyler.

"We were looking for individuals that the system consider too far gone. You know, in and out of programs for most of their teenage years and there is nothing left," said Hunter.

"I do not know how many times I thank God for this opportunity," said Jerry.

Tyler's parents, have spent their lives taking care of people as a paramedic firefighter and ER nurse. Now, they are thanking the kindness of others who donated to this non-profit for their son's second chance.

"I believe it is going to save his life," said Andy.

Tyler also knows you can't put a price on hope.

"I know I can turn my life around," said Tyler.

In two weeks, he will embark on a sailboat journey for that chance. A crew is already documenting his every step.

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