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

David C. Jones

It’s a Thirty-year anniversary celebration!  The Americans with Disabilities Act created the law, but it’s been people who have changed the World.  The passing of the ADA in 1990, provided the legislation that makes it illegal to discriminate against people with disabilities.  That opened the doors for people who care, to push for establishing the specific laws, codes, regulations, and guidelines that we follow to help enable equal access and inclusion into Society.

This civil rights law has created “opportunities to participate” and have changed the lives of everyone.  The Florida Disabled Outdoors Association is also celebrating our 30 years of caring and change through our advocacy and action.  

These are strange times, as we continue with our work in the endless pursuit of our mission.  Our FDOA team has done a great job of adjusting and adapting to a new world of conflicts and barriers, as we promote the health and wellbeing of all through recreation and active leisure living.  We have gone virtual with all of our programming since March, when the pandemic drastically changed our programs, plans, and our thinking.  The needs and benefits of an active lifestyle have become more even more evident now.  However, the opportunities to participate are way, way down, and the risks are much greater.  What do you do?!

We are working to find and create solutions to share, promote, and provide through our adaptive programming.  We have learned a lot as we progressed through our two major SportsAbility events and our adapted Summer Miracle Sports Tennis program.  You will hear more about our plans for the fall program that will also be totally virtual.  
We continue with our partners to collaborate in our efforts.  We are a long time chapter of “Move United”, which is the largest adaptive sports organization in the country and probably in the World.  Through their #adapt at home program, we have contributed to and benefited from best practices from many other likeminded organizations.  
Another partner that we have collaborated with is Florida International University (FIU) Therapeutic Recreation Department.  This summer, we worked with a class of graduating therapeutic Recreation students to provide internships with the FDOA.  We will be utilizing much of their work in research and creation of virtual content that we will use in our programs.  We also benefited from our own very talented Florida State University Sport Management Interns who helped us move into this new virtual online World.

We are currently working to create plans for when the time and circumstances are conducive, to get back to some form of physical sport activities in a safe, enjoyable and even more adapted format.  Follow us online to explore and discover interesting and exciting content and activities that we will be posting on our social media platforms.
Speaking of exploring, the hottest and fastest growing segment of recreation and interest is in the outdoors.  Outdoor recreation and nature based excursions like trail walks, camping, boating, fishing, and hunting are now the fastest in growth and are the activities of choice by many.  The FDOA was initially created to help people have access and enjoyment of outdoor nature based recreation 30 years ago.  We are now coming full circle back to that goal as a renewed objective and as a priority for us.  We are looking to recruit, retain, and reactivate participants of all abilities into outdoor recreation activities.

One of our first major accomplishments as the ADA was being rolled out was with our help in starting the very successful St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge (SMNWR) Mobility impaired (MI) hunt program.  It was the first refuge program of its kind in the country.  It became the bases for our highly recognized statewide MI hunt program under the leadership and direction of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. There are still a few permits available for this year’s hunt that will take place in December.  For more on this, read the article from David Moody of the SMNWR.

Your support can help the FDOA continue in creating the ways and means to help others enhance their lives through accessible, inclusive recreation and active leisure.  I have been blessed to be able to dedicate the past 30 years to our efforts.  If you can, please match that with a $30 donation to this important and meaningful cause.
Active Leisure for Life!

photo of Laurie Gussak

Executive Director's Message: Miracle Sports Bubble - Fall 2020
Laurie LoRe-Gussak, MBA, IOM, CAE

Those of you that are not in Tallahassee may not know about our Miracle Sports program. Since 2008, we have played just about every Thursday night on an accessible surface. The games are adapted so everyone can play and benefit from team sports. We have had so much fun!

This fall, we have some new ideas so more people can join in. With the help of our interns and Florida State University Sport Management students and Florida International University Therapeutic Recreation students,  we have some awesome new things on the horizon. The following will be offered on our Facebook page and you will not need to register:

1. Thursdays Live at 6 - Check out a variety of content showing all different aspects of sport. You will see everything from how to do drills and practice from home on a variety of sports to fitness workouts and tips. The one thing we can promise is that it will be fun.

2. Fitness Fridays - Every Friday at 11:00 am, there will be a workout for you to join. These workouts will be something that everyone can do. Adaptations will be shown for a variety of abilities. Haven't done any type of fitness in a while? Don't worry!! These sessions will be designed so you can go at your own pace.

The following will be offered via Zoom and individuals will register:

3. Put me in Coach! - We will be starting new exciting small group coaching sessions that can be done from home via video conferencing like Zoom. Coaches will choose the sport/activity to teach and the times of the sessions. Participants will be able to select from a list of sessions and times and then register for the session(s) that interest them. Each session will be limited to a small group, so the coach can give individualized attention. Once you register, you will get the log-in information for your session. Participants will be able to see the coach and the few others in their session. With this approach, we hope to accommodate more schedules and interests. We will be sharing more details soon. These sessions are in partnership with the City of Tallahassee Parks Recreation and Neighborhood Affairs for people in Leon county at the moment. In the future, we hope to expand the program.

Currently, we do not have plans for in-person sessions for the fall of 2020. The board and staff will continue to review and work on ways to return to play safely.

Stay well friends!!

Mark Your Calendar!

Positivity in Uncertaintyphoto of Amanda Cover
Amanda Cover, FDOA Intern

It is extremely easy to find the negative aspects of being confined to your home with limited outings. However, I have found two main benefits to working remotely from my house: time and reduction of expenses.
Time. It’s something we all wish we could extend. Like many others, this situation has allowed me to work remotely. I have had the opportunity to spend more time with my family because I am not commuting to and from an office daily. One way to take advantage of this newly gained time is to insert regular exercise into your schedule. It is incredibly easy to stay inside and be inactive during this time, but it is even more important now to find new ways to remain active. You may have been attending fitness classes or participating in group sports, but you can find ways to exercise at home and use that previously committed time for something else. I have been able to eat nightly meals (and occasional lunches) with my family which was abnormal for us when everyone had their own outside commitments.
If your pre-quarantine schedule did not include work, you may have been searching for new ways to stay busy at home. This time is a great chance for you to pick up a new hobby or declutter your house. Take it one step at a time to make progress that will not feel overwhelming, but it will bring you a sense of accomplishment in the end.
Secondly, staying at home brings the possibility to save on outside expenses. I personally have saved money on gas and restaurants. Without a commute, I rarely drive anywhere too far from my house. This also prevents me from frequently stopping to get an unnecessary snack or drink. Similarly, this time has encouraged more home-cooked meals instead of dining-out. This also has promoted a healthier diet and provided the opportunity to try new recipes. Although we are advised to stay away from large public events such as concerts and sporting events, there are many ways to enjoy similar leisure activities from home while saving money, too. My family has watched live concerts on television, completed a virtual escape room, and played games together in our living room. There are a multitude of ways to stay entertained from your own couch!
Staying at home allowed me to spend an unexpected amount of wonderful time with my family, both in person and virtually. It has been a pleasure to video chat with multiple members of my extended family and friends to check-in on each other and catch up on our lives. I hope that you, too, have taken advantage of this opportunity and will look for the positives in this unique situation!

Post on social media what you are doing to stay active! 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

St Marks Refuge Adds Additional Lands and Opportunities to the Mobility Impaired Hunt Program

The St. Marks Natural Wildlife Refuge has offered hunters with a mobility impairment a section of land near Sopchoppy, FL to hunt White-tailed deer for many years. This approximately 3,800 acre parcel of refuge is virgin territory to rifles and trucks before the hunt.  Mobility impaired hunters get to fire the first gunshot of the season in these woods. The Friday hunt meeting at 3:30 pm before the Saturday opener is always like a family meal with cousins you haven't seen in a while. They draw names out of a hat for stand locations and the tension builds as pins get placed at the known "spots". Whispers from the crowd let you know when the best spot gets claimed. Rules on driving the roads, stand hours, and government regulations are showered on the whole group before people disappear down their road. Each hunter is allowed a companion hunter and the bag limits must be shared. 

Hunters and staff alike realize that hunting the same ground is rewarding for history's sake, but new territory brings about a challenge. Are the best stands yet to be found in the new territory? or is the old Jay Leonard block still the hot spot?  Either way, a new additional section called Purify Bay (approximately 4,000 acres) has been added to the hunt area this season. The quota permit numbers doubled from 15 to 30 in anticipation of this new addition being popular. Prescribed burning keeps these units in top ecological shape and the scenery is uniquely Gulf Coast.   

FDOA & ADA 30 year anniversary

Donate to Support Inclusive Recreation

Suggested Donation:
Give $30 for our 30 years of supporting inclusive recreation for all ages and abilities.

Any donation amount accepted.

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)

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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)