David C. JonesFDOA Founder's Message: Fodder from the Founder - Happy New Year
David C. Jones

This is our first newsletter of the year and I want to start off with a very sincere Thank You to each and every person who reads this.  Some of you may know that this year has not been a happy start for me personally.  I’m having a difficult time writing or saying that I lost my daughter, Christi, as this New year began.  I appreciate all the kindness that my family and friends have shown to me.  It is hard.  I know that it’s also hard to find words that represent feelings of support and sympathy for anyone’s loss.  So, my first thank you goes to those of you who tried to do that difficult task.  

My next “Thank you” goes out to people who helped me 30 years ago as I rebuilt my life through the process of pursuit of a vision to create a helping hand to people with disabilities in order to enhance their lives by enjoying the miraculous benefits that come with participating in outdoor recreation.  Those Individuals who believed in me and helped with the creation of the Florida Disabled Outdoors Association were so vital to founding and growing this organization and to accomplish so much for so long a time.  Those few people who cared enough have enabled us to do so much, for so many, with so little.  Now, those efforts and seeds have produced so many wonderful people that have contributed to our success.  As we have grown over the years, we truly have been able to sustain during difficult times and to flourish with the opportunities that have come our way.  

There is a saying,  “Alone, we can do so little; together, we can do so much”.  It is absolutely  true with the FDOA.  So, my next “Thank You” goes to all of our partners, past and present.  There are so many of you, and I will not attempt to identify any by name.  My hope and wish is that every one of you would see this and know that it is you that I am thanking.  It is all of these collaborations that have made us so successful and will enable us to continue to touch the lives of so many.  Our partnerships have come from many sectors of society; Rehabilitation, health, disability, recreation, education, transportation, conservation, tourism, economic promotion, communications, and other areas.  We’ve enjoyed partnerships with many government agencies, other non-profit organizations, and businesses of many types.  

My next Thank You goes to all of you who have volunteered with us over all these years.  You have been and still are the lifeblood of our existence.  A main objective of the FDOA is most simply put by saying, “We help people to help others.”

My next Thank You goes to all of you who may have disabilities that have made the effort to participate in our programs, activities, and events.  Especially for those who have had to overcome so many obstacles and barriers to do what others may take for granted.  I am continually personally motivated and inspired by your presence, smiles, and laughter, or just by the twinkle of your eyes.

The last but very important Thank You goes to all of the parents, families, and care givers who are so vital to helping and providing the opportunities to participate.
Thank you all so much for what you do to help us do what we do.  We have accomplished much with your support and we have great intentions for the new year to do much more into the future.
 Active Leisure for Life!

photo of Laurie LoRe-GussakExecutive Director's Message: Virtual Reality - Accessible Recreation on the Horizon
Laurie LoRe-Gussak, MBA, IOM, CAE

I confess that I’m not a big gamer. The last time I really played a video game it was probably Ms. Pac-Man. That being said, the virtual reality world is something completely different.

We are undertaking a partnership with Covalent Reality to be able to simulate outdoor recreation activities. The way it will work is through goggles that put you into an alternate scenario. The first time I tried this, I didn’t realize how far we had come in the virtual reality world and I was blown away.

We are excited that we will start filming using 3-D format in the next month. Through a grant from the Florida Department of Health and an in-kind sponsorship with Covalent, we are going to be able to show people of all abilities what it feels like to experience nature and the outdoors first-hand.

We plan on adding modules with different experiences as we go. The first will be utilizing a track wheelchair to get off the beaten path and check out nature trails. More details will come as we get closer to the release date. I can’t wait to have our members try this out! ♥

image of sit water-skiing


SportsAbility Tallahassee
April 11-13, 2019 

Registration is now open!
Wake-sitting for People of ALL Abilities

Aubrey Kutz, Sports Management Intern

The newly emerged concept of wake-sitting has taken the world of adaptive sports by storm. Originating quite recently in central France, the idea of adaptive wakeboarding has begun to gain popularity internationally. Making it possible for people off all abilities to participate in the thrilling water sport, companies have been making attachable seats that fit to virtually any standard wakeboard. The popularity of wake sitting is growing immensely and can even be found locally in Orlando, FL.

John Lipscomb has been working as the President and coach of Ann’s Angels Adaptive Water Ski Foundation since 2016. They offer both recreational and tournament settings for participants. Lipscomb explains that “it is easy to learn how to recreational ski at our beginner events and you advance quickly with training by our program volunteers.” However, if you are looking for more of a challenge, “competition skiing is a little harder to learn and requires more time and effort by a rider.” They offer both wakeboarding from behind a boat and cable style wakeboarding as well. He states that the boat is more popular with adaptive riders.

Because the docks often times are not accessible for someone in a wheelchair. There are various pros and cons to both wakeboarding behind a boat and on a cable. Lipscomb advises that cable wakeboarding is cheaper and you can go by yourself, where as a boat requires someone to be there to drive. While cable wakeboarding “provides far fewer tournaments verses the boat which is geared towards adaptive riders”, it is still growing rapidly.

If you are looking for an exciting new skill to pick up or fun hobby to take on, wakeboarding may be for you. The thrilling water sport is accessible for people with a spinal cord injury and provides endless hours of entertainment. Whether you are looking to participate recreationally and try out a new adaptive sport in time for spring, or to get competitive in a whole new athletic arena, wakeboarding is the upcoming sport for you. Lipscomb states, “It is a life experience that they will not soon forget”.

Check out these links below for a better idea of wakesitting:
Information for People with a Spinal Cord Injury:
English / Spanish

Information for People with a Brain Injury:
English / Spanish

Live a Day, Live Your Life - Tech and Toys Demonstration Day - February 9

FDOA and FAAST, thanks to a generous grant from the Reeve Foundation, are hosting the third Live a Day event at Lake Silver in Winter Haven on February 9th.  The first two Live a Day events were held in late 2018 and were a great success, serving nearly two hundred people.  Thanks to the diverse activities, multiple types of recreation equipment and great food and fun at the first two events, the third event will be the biggest and best yet.  There will be additional vendors, new activities and more opportunities for individuals with paralysis and mobility-related disabilities to learn about and try out different types of equipment and sports that can make a lasting impact on their health, independence and well-being.  When you join us on the 9th, you will be able to try out various types of hand-cycles, meet with representatives from GRIT chairs, Track Chairs, OGO Chairs, Power Soccer and others.

There will be fully accessible power boat rides on the lake and various types of adaptive and tandem kayaks and paddleboards for all levels and abilities.  Archery, hunting information, tennis, disc golf and other games will be available as well.  While you are there, enjoy the music and a free lunch.   Don’t miss out - Visit www.fdoa.org/demo-days for more information and to register!

Able United - Check out the New Account Enhancements!

ABLE United will be onsite at this year’s Sportsability Resource Expo on Friday, April 12! Stop by their booth during exhibit hours to get your questions answered on how you can start saving money tax-free without risking the loss of government benefits.

ABLE United recently introduced new account enhancements that offer increased flexibility and peace of mind. New features include:  

•    FDIC-insured savings option
•    Live chat with customer service
•    Enhanced gifting portal to allow others to support you in reaching your savings goals
•    Optional Prepaid MasterCard® will soon be available for your convenience

Opening an account is quick, easy and free – and all you have to do is contribute as little as $25 to get started. The best part is, when you visit their booth, you can learn how you ABLE United will match your contribution of $25 just by enrolling in an account.

There’s never been a better time to start saving than now – stop by their booth and get on your way to saving for a better life experience!

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.


Text FUN to 707070 to donate!

Donations may also be mailed to:

Florida Disabled Outdoors Association
2475 Apalachee Parkway, Suite 205
Tallahassee, FL 32301

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