Making the outdoors accessible to all
Tallahassee, FL (December 1, 2020) – Cordell Jeter spent his childhood building tree forts and running through the woods catching frogs with his friends. But he thought that part of his life was over when a car accident left him paralyzed from the waist down at 20 years old. A former football star, Jeter had completed a marathon and won medals at the 1992 Paralympic Games within three years of the accident, but he had not returned to his beloved woods.
Fast forward thirty years. In 2014 Jeter was introduced to the Florida Disabled Outdoors Association (FDOA) and their all-terrain trackchairs, and the outdoor world opened back up for him. With FDOA, Jeter participated in hunts, visited the beach, fished and explored the woods for the first time since his paralysis. “I didn’t realize that I had barriers up that kept me from enjoying nature,” said Jeter. “Driving across grass and into the woods for the first time in a trackchair blew my mind. Thanks to the chair and FDOA, I have access to adventures that I wouldn’t have previously thought possible.”
To ensure that all have this access to outdoor adventures, the nonprofit Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida recently granted FDOA $20,000 for the purchase of an all-terrain mobility device that will be available to rent at Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission hunts as well as other outdoor adventures. “Most people take access to outdoor recreation for granted,” said Jeter. “Being able to be included in enjoying nature has enhanced my mental stability and quality of life. Instead of feeling like a burden, I’m now an equal participant and the valued luggage carrier!” Jeter has been so impacted by the chairs that he is working to bring them to more outdoor venues as the founder of TrackedMobility.
“Our partnership with the Foundation has enabled people with disabilities to experience the joy and empowerment of nature in a way that wasn’t accessible prior,” said FDOA executive director Laurie LoRe Gussak. “Seeing the smile on someone’s face as a part of their world opens up to them is beyond priceless.”
The Foundation has previously provided funding for FDOA’s SportsAbility program. SportsAbility educates people of all abilities on the available opportunities to enjoy hunting and the outdoors through participation in sports like archery and target shooting.
Funds for the grant came from the Foundation’s Wildlife Foundation of Florida license plate, which contains the image of a deer. Twenty-five dollars from each purchased plate supports protection and management of lands open to public hunting, hunting safety programs and training in archery and other shooting sports.
“We are committed to making nature and outdoor recreation available to all,” said president and CEO Andrew Walker. “The Florida Disabled Outdoors Association is doing incredible work and we are proud to partner with them again.”
About the Florida Disabled Outdoors Association
The Florida Disabled Outdoors Association (FDOA) is a nonprofit organization that is working to enrich lives through accessible inclusive recreation. Since its inception in 1990, the FDOA has promoted accessible recreation to persons with disabilities as well as the public through its hands-on recreation programs, newsletters and community outreach and education. More information can be found at fdoa.org.