Stan Harris Takes Flight

Stan Harris Gliding

Brooks Adaptive Sports participant and middle school teacher, Stan Harris recently flew to new heights, thanks to the North Florida Soaring Society. Harris was given the opportunity to fly in a super Blanik L 23 two-seater glider, an experience he enthusiastically called a thrilling ride. Harris rode with pilot Jeff Buckholz, the current president of the soaring club. 

“My favorite part was when Jeff let me have the controls!”, said Harris, about the 30-minute flight.

Harris learned a lot during his time in the air.

“I was interested to learn that what most people call air turbulence is exactly what the glider pilots look for to help them stay up in the air longer. Instead of turbulence, they call it a thermal, which is rising warm air,” he explained.

Stan Harris Goes Gliding

StanHarris_Gliding4

To learn more about the North Florida Soaring Society, visit their website.

Generosity Shines

atlantic-powder-coating

A big thank you to Atlantic Powder Coating owner Harold Matthews and his team for their support of our program and the Summer Slam Quad Rugby tournament coming up on Saturday, July 19. Atlantic Powder Coating will be donating $500 to cover the cost of lunch for all participants. 

The Jacksonville-based company is known for their excellent work in powder coating, welding, furniture repair and sandblasting.

To learn more about the company, visit www.powdercoatingjacksonville.com

Summer Slam | July 19

Southern Slam Summer

Come spend your summer vacation with the Bandits!

Southern Slam Bandits

Join us once again for a weekend of full-contact quad wheelchair quad rugby. All ages and abilities welcome
Registration limited to the first 50 participants
Registration fee $75.00/person
Includes two lunches and Saturday night Barbecue

Contact jennifer.guss@brooksrehab.org for more information.

Let Your Talent Shine

This summer is the perfect time to take the stage and join us for our annual Let Your Heart Shine Adaptive Talent Show on Friday, August 1st. We are looking for Program participants and their caregivers to share their special talents in music, dancing, comedy, theater and more. Groups, duos and individuals are welcome to take the spotlight.

Let It Shine Talent Show

Let Your Heart Shine – Adaptive Talent Show

When: Friday, August 1

Time: 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm

Where: Brooks Rehabilitation
3599 University Boulevard S.
Assembly Rooms 1 & 2
Jacksonville, FL 32216

Sign up by email Jennifer Guss at Jennifer.Guss@brooksrehab.org.

 All proceeds will benefit the 2014 AHA Heartwalk Campaign.

Archery Season Kicks Off

Monday night welcomes the official kick off of the new Adaptive Archery Season, held each week at the Fort Caroline Archery Club.

Each Monday alternates between levels, depending on participants experience with the bow and arrow. League Night is a competitive-focused, bi-weekly event for those participants with previous archery experience, while Novice Night is designed with the newcomer in mind, offering  a fun environment with one-on-one coaching.

Equipment is provided free of charge.

If you have questions regarding Archery Night, please email Susan.Blalock@brooksrehab.org.

Archery Season 2014

Monthly Spotlight | A Heart for Cycling

Ashley Cooper-Heath, participant of theBrooks Adaptive Sports and RecreationPetite in stature, but big in heart, local resident Ashley Cooper-Heath crossed the finish line this past weekend during the JAX Tri Series Sprint #1 triathlon event at Fernandina Beach.

She successfully completed the 1500-meter swim, 20k bike ride, and 10k run, clocking in at right around 3:02 minutes.

It was a finishing time she can proudly add to her growing list of accomplishments. She was, after all, the only adaptive athlete to compete.

Five years ago, she would have laughed at the idea of taking on such a feat. Today, she welcomes the challenge.

Brooks Cycling Program

Human Race 2014

The first time Ashley tried hand cycling in 2009 through the Brooks Adaptive Sports and Recreation Program, it was not love at first concrete lap.

The life-long athlete struggled to complete the four-mile ride and decided then and there that she’d rather stick with adaptive tennis, a sport she had discovered while attending University of North Florida.

These days, the petite blond with a born to win attitude, still enjoys hitting the tennis courts, but can’t imagine not having adaptive cycling as a central part of her life.

In 2004, Ashley was involved in a horrific car accident, which brought her life to a halt. She suffered a T-4 complete spinal cord injury, leaving her wheelchair-bound. She spent several weeks in a coma, followed by six long months recovering in a hospital bed.

Once she returned home, she faced the challenges and struggles of navigating a new life. Prior to her accident, she had been very active. She was a beach lifeguard, a cheerleader in high school, and ran track. Now, she was refined to a wheelchair.

Like many in her situation, she battled with depression.

Her saving grace came in the form of her determination to push on. Seeking independence, she packed up her stuff and moved to Miami and later relocated to the Jacksonville area to attend college. Her grandfather had always been a champion of education and Ashley credits him for motivating her to go after her dreams. She pursued an undergraduate degree in Exercise Science and first discovered the Brooks Adaptive Sports and Recreation Program after hearing about the adaptive tennis program held on campus.

As her undergraduate schooling was winding down, Ashley began her internship with the Brook Adaptive Sports Program, helping out with the quad rugby program. This is where she met her future husband, James Heath. He was the assistant rugby coach and they slowly formed a close friendship. He had been involved with hand cycling for a long time and encouraged Ashley to give it a try.

“I hated it right off the bat,” she said. “I did a couple miles and it was beyond hard. It worked muscles I hadn’t used in a long time. I was prepared to give up and call it good.”

She all but threw in the towel then and there, but James continued to encourage her and wouldn’t let her give up.

“Slowly, it became easier and easier. I realized that once I got over the initial struggle, I was a natural at hand cycling. It was a physical challenge and I thrived. It just felt right,” she explained.

Ashley stuck with the sport and has now branched out to paratriathlete training, a combination of hand cycling, adaptive running, and swimming.

She has her sights set on the 2016 Paralympics.

“This sport takes a lot of discipline,” she said, referring to her 6 day a week training schedule and all around healthy way of living.

She gives a lot of credit to her husband for first encouraging her to pursue the sport and for continuing to be her biggest fan.

“If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be able to do half of what I do now. He’s very self-sufficient and driven and I strive to emulate those qualities,” she shared. “He pushed me to try hand cycling and he continues to push me to try harder and do my best.”

She is currently training for the Augusta Half Ironman, set to take place in September in Augusta, Georgia.

With her husband supporting her every inch of the way, Ashley is continuing to pursue her dreams, one race at a time.

Ashley Cooper-Heath  Hand Cycling