Abilities in Motion celebrates fun,

fitness for persons with disabilities

David and gold medalThe Connecting Community Coalition’s Abilities in Motion Tuesday, Oct 14, brought out hundreds of persons with or without disabilities to hear David Wagner, world wheelchair tennis paralympian, discuss his triumph over tragedy.  His upbeat presentation highlighted his life events since a surfing accident in California left him partially paralyzed.

Through determination and tireless training, he is an internationally recognized paralympic wheelchair tennis player who is number one in quad singles and doubles in the world.  He has been in the top three in the world since 2002 and has competed in the Paralympic Games in Athens, Beijing and London winning three gold medals, two silver and one Bronze. He is also a 14-time grand slam winner.

Trisha and Larz

The event also featured videos by AmethystBlind Ambition’s “Dragon Races” which competes in rowing competitions, and one of a bike clinic presented by Oregon Disability Sports and Adventures Without Limits.


Nicole and Charlie HalesAbilities in Motion was also an opportunity for the Making a Difference Awardspresentation of Portland’s “Making a Difference Awards” by Mayor Charlie Hales and City Disability Coordinator Nickole Cheron.  Awards were presented to Blind Ambition, On the Move, Portland Pounder’s rugby team, and Lamar Wright, disc jockey.

untitled-2234Lynda Van Doran, CCC’s Leadership Academy co-chair, discussed this year’s highly successful academy for professional leadership development and thanked sponsors, speakers and graduates. Her co-chair, Polly Livingston, was not on hand.



John Williams of Wheelchair Destinations (right),John Williams well-respected local radio personality, was emcee of the event.

Mac Potts (left), a Mactalented young blind pianist, opened the event with his piano playing.



BarbBarbara Dirks (left) and Jan Campbell Jan(right), co-chairs of the CCC, shared the group’s interest in health and fitness as a much-needed opportunity for persons with disabilities and invited those in attendance to join in the CCC’s goals to increase the availability of fitness and recreation through its future efforts.

hockey cartThere were also vendor tables with handcyles, bikes, and recreational information from the many sponsors of the event.  But, topping that list was the innovative electric hockey cart, which is made in Denmark and sold in the U.S. by Incight.  This exciting item got the last word of the night when Dan Friess, executive director of Incight, drove it on stage to the delight of all in attendance.


Leadership Academy Graduation 2014

Lynda Vn Doran quoteLast night’s Leadership Academy graduation was a memorable evening which included presentations by students and a moving address by Rep. Julie Parrish.  It was a night of laughter,  inspiring stories, and moving memories shared of times before civil rights and the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act which paved the way for greater access for persons with disabilities. Those were the dark ages, a time when persons with disabilities were locked out of public establishments due to a lack of access, which included playgrounds for children, restaurants and bars. churches and just about everywhere.

Today, it’s a whole new story, a much more inclusive and accessible world for persons with disabilities. Yet, there’s still so much more needed. That’s where real leadership is needed to advocate on behalf of their own needs.

This year’s ten graduates, organized into three teams, presented their projects last night in a series which offered a moving witness to their personal challenges as persons with disabilities, how they have overcome them, and the changes they are planning to implement in their new leadership roles.

Julie ParrishTopping the evening was a poignant talk to the group by Rep. Julie Parrish who shared her own challenges helping her son cope with his grief when her husband was sent to Iraq. Unexpectedly, after meeting with school counselors and every imaginable source to help him cope, she was surprised and gratified that he found strength among a group of students with disabilities. She said persons with disabilities offer so much to others and they made all the difference in her son’s and her family’s life.

After nine weeks of inspiring, empowering, informational and skill set development classes, the Leadership Academy closed with the perfectly placed words, spoken by Lynda Van Doran, which summed up the entire vision of the class,  “Empowerment is the word of ‘Choice,’  your choice to be, do, have what is within your power. Go and be empowered.”

Lynda Van Doran and Polly Livingston, co-directors of the course, developed and delivered a life-changing, empowering, visionary and hugely impactful nine-week course.

Polly and Lynda


And, congratulations to all the graduates:

Desiree Christian, Marsha Yarbrough, Dana Owens, Sean Kriloff, Carolyn Anderson, Terrence Blosser, Mary Loos, Todd Ray, Stacy Hamar, Darian Slayton Fleming

Thank You, Randall Charitable Trust!!

This year’s Leadership Academy, which begins next week, has been made possible through a generous gift of $10,000 from the Robert D. and Marcia H. Randall Charitable Trust.

Thanks to their vision and generosity a very important door to real world professional leadership has been opened to persons with disabilities. It is an important step for this year’s class who will be the leadership we have been waiting for.

The nine-week program has more students than last year and includes many of Portland’s top notch leaders to guide them toward professional leadership development.

Since too often persons with disabilities have found insufficient access for their activities and aspirations, their plight is nothing less than a civil rights issue. This led the Connecting Communities Coalition last year to initiate an innovative professional training program to train persons with disabilities to advocate for themselves and find success in their own dreams and professional goals. This year’s program will build on the huge success of last year’s program and include more material and an extra class.

In the final analysis, all the speakers, leaders, class prep, is available through the magnaniminity of the Robert D. and Marcia H. Randall Charitable Trust! CCC extends a heartfelt expression of sincere gratitude for their generousity and support.