David C. JonesFDOA Founder's Message: Fonder from the Founder

David C. Jones

 Hurricane Michael has been devastating to thousands of people here in Northwest Florida and all the way up into the Northeast United States.  Too many have suffered the worst loss imaginable, the loss of life of family, friends or other loved ones.  Many lost their homes, businesses and some everything that they owned.  We had our local Mexico Beach community almost totally wiped out in one area and Panama City was hit with major destruction. Then a path of destruction from there to the north with severe destruction and damage.  Many small towns and rural communities were devastated. For many there are major life changes to endure. For many life will never be the same.

Our FDOA office is in Tallahassee and is also my home town. Most of the city faired pretty well. Mostly loss of power for a week or so and damage sustained by high winds to our highly valued trees that took out power lines and crashed into many of our homes. Many of us are still digging out and working to repair the damages.

Being the optimist that I am, I know that there are always positive things to be discovered in even terrible things that have happened and also in things that will happen in the future. It could have been a lot worse for many of us.  
One of the good things is that I did not see or hear of any horrible incident of people with disabilities being trapped or put a greater risk during the evacuation process during this storm like we had happen in the past. I didn’t hear or see any major problems with shelters for people with disabilities. I think one of the good things to come from past storms has been a major emergency preparation and response education effort by the Florida Dept. of Health and other agencies.

The City of Tallahassee sure seemed to have learned and improved the local recovery here this time.  For many people living with disabilities or health issues, electricity is a necessity and not a luxury or just a convenience.
One of the good things that I hope comes amidst all of the terrible consequences of Hurricane Michael is opportunities to enhance accessibility  to our beaches and recreation areas as we rebuild the infrastructure that was lost in the storm.  Many of our Parks and Public Beach access areas were severely damaged and will be closed for quite a while. I understand that Our St. George, St. Joe and Bald Point State Parks were devastated. It will take time, money, and hopefully very good smart planning to bring them back into service for our residents and visitors to enjoy the valuable benefits that they provide.  This presents the opportunity to provide the needed accessibility that may have been lacking or to improve on what may have been provided before.  I see this as the time to look at these areas with rose colored glasses and with an eye to the future as we rebuild these areas. While we all hope that we never see this area hit so hard ever again, we do know that we will have continue to have storms hit our coast here in Florida and we should put lots of thought into where and how we rebuild.

The health and well-being of our residents, tourist and also maybe just as importantly our economy relies heavily on   the lure of our beaches and coastal businesses.   By providing accessibility with a universal design concept and by using adaptive products like temporary or removable access matting for pathways and assistive technologies like all terrain beach and trail wheelchairs, we can encourage the inclusion and participation of all people with many diverse backgrounds and interest.     Active Leisure for Life!

photo of Laurie LoRe-GussakExecutive Director's Message: fdoa.org Now Mobile-Focused!

Laurie LoRe-Gussak, MBA, IOM, CAE

Our website is now mobile focused! Yay! When trying to find information on fdoa.org from your phone, tablet or other mobile device, it won’t simply shrink down. Instead, it will change the formatting tailoring it specifically for mobile. This means you will more easily access recreation programs, articles on current happenings, the database of accessible inclusive recreation in Florida and other super cool stuff!

We have worked hard to get the framework in place. We are going to continue to improve and make things easier to find. If you see something that would be better another way, let me know. I want to add it to the list of enhancements we are making.

I hope you will join our journey of accessing info electronically through our new & improved fdoa.org!


SportsAbility Tallahassee April 11-13, 2019:  Registration is now open!

Water-skiing for People of ALL Abilities

Sydney Hawkins, Park and Recreation Management Intern

Hot summer days in Florida are best spent in the water cooling off. One of the best ways to enjoy those lake days are by waterskiing! Water skiing is a very adaptable sport because of the many different types of skiing or other ways to enjoy the water such as wakeboarding, slalom skiing, jumps, sit skiing, and tubes! Athletes will gain physical strength as well as confidence through learning to waterski, as well as being involved in a great social environment where they can participate along with friends and family. Because the sport has so many variations, the only restriction is making sure the person can be able to turn over from face down to face up in the water, which is why athletes wear PFDs/lifejackets and often have people skiing beside them or in the water with them.

One of the most popular ways to learn adaptive waterskiing is to participate in a program. There are a growing number of waterski teams and organizations across the country that are creating opportunities for people of all abilities to try out waterskiing. Ann’s Angels is a Florida based organization that teaches other groups across the country how to run their own adaptive waterskiing programs. John Lipscomb began working with the organization early on, after suffering a knee injury and being unable to ski. “It helps me to make life worth living, and to stay involved with the sport,” he said. One of the greatest parts about adaptive skiing is that it is inclusive with other, able-bodied skiers. “Waterskiing evens the playing field because everyone can do the same thing right next to each other, at the same time,” he continued, excited about how adaptive skiing has tricks, jumping, and other competitive events just like the original sport.

Ann’s Angels has many events coming up! In Winter Haven, FL, on August 25th, they are hosting an event called Wheelchair for Kids, and September 14-15 they are holding a clinic in Miami for disabled veterans! For more information, you can check out their Facebook page for all of their upcoming events or their website http://www.annsangelsawf.org/upcoming-clinics--events.html ! Ann’s Angels holds events statewide to ensure everyone gets the opportunity to ski.

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.


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)