David C. Jones
FDOA Founder's Message: Fodder from the Founder

David C. Jones
2019 was an outstanding year for the FDOA.  We have enjoyed a very healthy growth and have really moved the needle toward our most important goal: sustainability.  We will be celebrating our thirtieth year of operations in 2020.  It is mind boggling to think that I have been focused on the FDOA for nearly half of my life now.

While we will celebrate our thirty-year anniversary, the people of the country and really the entire world will also be reflecting on our shared 1990 beginning with the Americans with Disabilities Act.  The ADA was signed into law the same year by President George H.W. Bush.  We will be celebrating this ADA and FDOA anniversary up into July, which is the month of the actual signing date of this significant and life changing civil rights law.

We have worked hard and had much success ourselves in our own small world to touch and change the lives of many with our programs and advocacy for people with disabilities, families, friends, and for all of society.  We are proud of our accomplishments this past year and hope you will read the excellent annual report that Laurie has compiled and presents for you in this newsletter.  Our future looks great as we grow and expand our existing programs, while continuing to add exciting new opportunities.

A new project that I’m really excited about is with our ALLOUT program.  We have been so fortunate to have partnered with Thomas Griffin and his Bird Dog Boats for an Adventure program.  This collaboration has enabled us to offer boating and fishing trips on his brand new and innovatively designed boat that is totally accessible, safe, easy, and enjoyable.

The FDOA and Birddog boats collaborated with FAAST to provide rides for people living with paralysis through a Christopher Reeve grant.  We are now booking trips for veterans or active military and their families to enjoy adventure boating trips on waters in five different areas of the State.  This opportunity is provided and paid for through a Disabled Sports USA / Bob Woodworth grant We offer these outdoor excursions that can be customized by the veteran.  If you are a vet or know one, please take a look at the program and plan for an adventure on some beautiful Florida waters.  The only cost is in getting to the dock.  You need to get your dates booked soon, as trips are first come, first served (more details are in this newsletter).

Be on the lookout for another exciting collaboration that has been in the works for several years now.  We are close to announcement and the introduction of a new all-terrain mobility device.   It will be a real game changer in opening access to the outdoors.  More on that later.  Active Leisure for Life!

photo of Laurie Gussak

Executive Director's Message: 2019 Year in Review
Laurie LoRe-Gussak, MBA, IOM, CAE

Since the inception of Florida Disabled Outdoors Association (FDOA) we have had a vision of where we wanted to be. We have been working toward having residents and visitors of Florida of all ages and all abilities being able to participate in recreation activities of their choice without barriers to enable a healthier happier more productive society.

This year we were recognized for our efforts and proud to be named Association of the Year from the Florida Society of Association Executives. This honor comes from the diligence and hard work of our board, our volunteers, our partners, staff and interns and of course our participants. I truly feel that everyone has worked harder than ever in 2019. FDOA is making strides one step at a time and moving forward making progress. Please take a few moments to review the 2019 FDOA Annual Report for a more complete look of the programs and accomplishments.

 Annual Report Full Screen

Annual Report PDF Download

ALLOUT Adventure Program: Active Vets, Boating and Fishing with your Family
Riley Harrison, FDOA Intern

Photo of the Bird Dog Boat that is fully accessible.Winter in Florida offers beautiful days filled with sunshine, a cool breeze, and clear skies. Imagine being able to participate in an inclusive leisurely fishing trip or ecology tour on an all accessible Bird Dog Boat. With four different venues across the state of Florida, disabled veterans are able to spend the day, with up to three friends or family members, exploring the outdoors.

The Florida Disabled Outdoors Association ALLOUT Adventure program offers the opportunity for a wonderful day on the water at no charge! The program is provided in part through a grant from the NFL Salute to Service Program and Disabled Sports USA.

On a first come first serve basis, 24 veterans are eligible to participate. This Active Vet experience will offer veterans and their loved ones a special day creating lifelong memories. With each venue offering something special, there is no wrong way to participate in this great outdoor adventure. Half Day outings will be scheduled in the following Florida areas: Tampa, Jacksonville, Yankeetown, Tallahassee and Forgotten Coast.v

The program is open to veterans who were injured post 2001 that require adaptive equipment or instruction (i.e. TBI, SCI, amputation, VI, Deaf, nerve or muscle damage, significant joint injuries, etc) to participate in this program. With the FDOA’s mission to enrich lives through accessible and inclusive recreation for all, this program will allow veterans an incredible opportunity to take a day to experience the joy of exploring the outdoors.

Mark Your Calendar!

Register today for Miracle Sports!
Messer Park, Field 3 - 1158 Dupree Street , Tallahassee, FL 32304 (closest to the skate park)
The upcoming season is kickball which will begin January 23 and run through April 2. Kids play from 6:00-7:00 p.m. and adults from 7:00-8:00 p.m. every Thursday at Miracle Field. Register today!


Thomas Henry, FDOA Intern

Every four years, the world of sports lights up for the Olympic Games as millions of people follow the event with passion. A couple of weeks after the competition ends, the Paralympic Games are being held in the same host city, where “valid” athletes and competitions are taken over by a wide spectrum of adapted sports and athletes.

Athletes must be able to meet the standards set by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), an equivalent of the IOC (International Olympic Committee) for the Olympic Games. Over the years, the number of qualifying athletes, as well as their level of performance has increased tremendously. Accordingly, 448 Olympic records and 304 world records were beaten during the Athens Paralympics in 2004.

While the Olympics have been around for a century, the Paralympic Games are fairly recent, and originated in 1948 in Stoke Mandeville, England. The very first adapted competition had then been created, and designed for WWII veterans with spinal cord injuries. In 1952, this event became an international competition, which would eventually be held in the same country as the Olympic Games starting in 1960. As the competition was mostly designed for rehabilitation purposes at first, the focus shifted towards a more competitive, sports oriented event, where athletes will all kinds of impairments and abilities could participate.

In 2020, the world will witness the 16th Summer Paralympic Games, which could be historic in terms of participation from both athletes and spectators. According to the Guardian, ticket sales have been unprecedented, as “more than three million requests for Tokyo 2020 in the first lottery phase” were recorded, tripling the demand dating from a year before London 2012. On that same note, Paralympic sports have become more popular in Japan, the host country, where adapted games are frequently on TV, and leading to an increased interest from the local population..

This year's Paralympic Games will be held in Tokyo, Japan, and will begin on the 25th of August and run until the 6th of September. Alexei Talai, one of our members from Belarus, will be participating in the swimming events. Learn more about him and others in the next newsletter.

We would love to hear if you have a favorite Paralympic sport or athlete. Let us know on social media!
Tag us!  Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn

Information for People with a Spinal Cord Injury:
English / Spanish

Information for People with a Brain Injury:
English / Spanish

Please help someone with a disability learn photo of a boy hugging a horsehow to benefit from physical activity!

You may think that small donation won't make a difference, but it truly does! Each person contributing a small amount makes an impact on someone's life forever!  Please donate whatever you can to help a person with a disability experience the benefits of the physical activities.
Donate on FDOA Website
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Donations may also be mailed to:
Florida Disabled Outdoors Association

3035 Eliza Road
Tallahassee, FL 32308

FDOA gratefully accepts tax deductible donations and in-kind gifts as a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization. (Federal ID# 59-3051552)