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FGCU Hosts Annual Adaptive Sports and Rec Day

FGCU+Hosts+Annual+Adaptive+Sports+and+Rec+Day
Jessica Piland

FGCU hosted its annual Adaptive Sports and Rec Day on Saturday Oct. 7 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.  The organizations set up various sports and activities for guests in attendance at the North Lake tennis courts, basketball courts and the Waterfront.

These activities are catered to people with disabilities to allow for inclusion, education and fun.

 “We put together this adaptive sports and recreation day for our students and community to come and see what kind of adaptive services that we have, explore some different ways to look at sports and sporting and get in the water to have some fun,” Dr. Kevin Minner, an assistant professor of occupational therapy here at FGCU, said. “This event is for bringing awareness to the community about how we can adapt sports to be inclusive and bring fun and entertainment to everybody no matter what their physical or social capabilities.”

Located at the basketball courts outside Alico Arena was an area to play baseball set up by local nonprofit, Disability Dream and Do, also known as D3Day.

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Jessica Piland

“We do camps all over the country for kids with physical and mental limitations with pro teams,” Dave Clark, founder of D3Day, said. 

Clark, who has polio, was able to pitch on crutches when he played Minor League Baseball. After his career, he wanted to give back to kids that have had struggles similar to him. D3Day hosts sports camps across the country specialized for children with disabilities. It features professional players interacting with special needs children, teaching them that sports have no limitations. At Adaptive Sports and Rec Day, Clark and his coworkers were encouraging many children to play baseball. 

Another activity at Waterfront was Ann’s Angels Water Ski Foundation, a nonprofit based in Winter Haven. 

“We are doing an adaptive water ski program for people with disabilities,” John Lipscomb, president and founder of Ann’s Angels, said. “Our mission is to show people with disabilities how to step away from chairs and their devices to get out of the houses and get involved in a sport that will help their mind, body and soul for the rest of their lives.”

Jessica Piland

Ann’s Angels features a specially designed water ski chair for handicapped participants. It safely straps them in as a boat carries water skiers around. Ann’s Angels also travels around Florida to as many as 15 other cities in the state to host water ski events for people with physical disabilities. 

There were people of all ages that showed up to Adaptive Sports and Rec Day at FGCU and were excited for what the events had to offer.

 “I’m here trying to enjoy the festivities that they offer,” Luke Pagu, one of the guests in attendance, said. “I’m a quadriplegic, C7 spinal cord injury, and this is just amazing being able to get in and waterski because mobility sucks when you get a spinal cord injury. These people are amazing and I love being here and being able to do this.” 

Pagu looked forward to water skiing and hopes he can attend future events that Ann’s Angels hosts. 

“This offers a different perspective on life, especially for those that are in wheelchairs,” Pagu said. “Without this, people like me wouldn’t be able to do any of this, somebody in a wheelchair that can’t move going water skiing or playing baseball, basketball and everything else that they have done today.”

Both D3Day and Ann’s Angels not only want to provide a positive impact for disabled people that participate in their events but to also inspire them in life. 

“The thing I try to get across to these people is it’s about trying things you normally wouldn’t be trying to expand your thought process,” Clark said. “Do not be afraid, get out of your comfort zone and you never know what you can accomplish.

It was not easy planning this year’s event, as it has gone through some difficult times that led up to today. However, Minner exemplified that it was all worth it in the end to see many people enjoying a fun-filled sports day.

“Adaptive Sports Day was started around six or seven years ago and has grown tremendously,” Minner said.  “We’d like to give a huge thank you to all the organizations that came out today so we can make this a more of an annual event. In the future we also hope to see more events multiple times per year, like during fall, spring and summer.” 

There were many more organizations and nonprofits that brought fun activities for all people involved. For more information on these featured nonprofits, visit https://www.annsangelsawf.org/ and https://d3day.com/.  

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About the Contributor
Jessica Piland, Eagle News Photo Editor
Jessica Piland is a senior majoring in political science and minoring in global studies. She found her passion for photography during her senior year of high school after shooting some film for fun with her grandfather’s camera from the 80s. In addition to her work as photo editor for Eagle News, she works as a staff photographer for FGCU Athletics and is a photography intern with the University Marketing and Communications department. As she enters her third year as photo editor, she is excited for the fun stories, campus events, and breaking news that Eagle News will be covering!

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