Community

Josh Selmyer

Josh was born and raised in Rochester, NY, but has been in South Florida for 25 years and counting.  After high school, Josh attended college at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, FL. In 1997—shortly after graduation from college—Josh’s life came to an abrupt halt when he sustained a spinal cord injury in a shallow-water diving accident. Though the  injury had left him paralyzed from the chest down, Josh nonetheless decided to return to his alma mater for law school.  Josh graduated from the University of Miami School of Law—and became a member of the Florida Bar—in 2002.  After law school, Josh accepted an appellate  clerkship at the First District Court of Appeals in Tallahassee, FL. This opportunity paved the way for a career in civil litigation—which saw Josh practice throughout South Florida for a decade—from firms in West Palm Beach (and later) Fort Myers. In 2009, Josh decided to leave the structured confines of law firm practice, in favor of independent practice. In addition to providing Tropical Wheelchair Sports with legal advice, Josh is an adaptive athlete in his own right. In his spare time, Josh competes in local 5K and 10K races, using only his everyday wheelchair. Through thousands of miles of training, Josh has enabled himself to compete in races comprised of able-bodied runners. In August 2016, Josh met Mindy at a local 5K race, where he learned of Mindy’s budding adaptive tennis program. The two became quick friends, and their shared interest in adaptive sports continues to flourish in the form of Tropical Wheelchair Sports.
Nick Williams
Hello my name is Nick Williams and on May 4th 2008 I was in a car accident which left me paralyzed. Before the accident, I was an all county high school volleyball player with college offers to play volleyball. After my accident, I was concerned as to how I was going to keep my athletic greens alive, until I found tennis. However, tennis can be a very expensive game to play and I could not play at the level that I wanted to without help from sponsors and assistance from groups such as the South Florida wheelchair sports program. I'm so grateful for all that they have done for me and I could not have done it without them.
I'm excited for where the future will take us all!

Michael O'Leary

I was talking to a fellow wheel chair ( Dayan Solar ) pickleball friend one day, about our similar passions for sports and competing. W also were discussing how we both had been inflicted two very different brain diseases; his being MS and mine Lewy Body Dementia. He struggle when he first discovered that he had MS but after being introduced to wheelchair tennis and pickleball he found much pleasure and fulfillment at the opportunity to compete in sports once again.He asked me how I felt about the discovering that I had Lewy Body Dementia. I told him that in the beginning I had  similar thoughts like he had. Shock, anger, fear, and disappointment were a few of my initial emotions. It took some time to work through these feelings, but it came to me one day that these feelings were not healthy, and would never make me happy. So I had to find another way to approach the rest of my life. 

                                                             I looked back at my life and realized that being an athlete and competitive in                                                                        every sport i ever participated in had always made me feel very fulfilled and                                                                          happy. I decided at that moment that instead of looking at my brain disorder                                                                         as a "handicap" or "disability", I chose to approach it as another competition!                                                                          Just as I had approached sports with a relentless passion to fight and compete                                                                        and "Win", I will fight and compete against my dementia. I will find ways to                                                                           find fulfillment and happiness in my life the only way I know how! How do                                                                     I win this competition? With the love and support of my incredible family; my beautiful amazing wife, my kids, and their spouses who make me so proud, my adorable grand kids, and of course the love and support of my parents! I am also grateful and fortunate to have a host of supportive freinds and to live in my island paradise on the beach! Staying active working out, riding  three wheeled recumbent bike, paddle boarding, and wheelchair pickleball, all help me realize life is still great! All of these  things are the driving force in winning this competition! 

It's just another sport; just another competition! And I am "Winning Again"!!! 

Dan Solar 

                                                       Growing up in Cuba I was always involved in sports. At the age of six I was               introduced to tennis, and my passion for other sports grew from there. I spent half my life engaged and competing in all types of sports; including karate and rowing. Life in Cuba made Competing in sports have a much greater meaning than just winning a game.

   Ten years ago a rare autoimmune disorder started to attack my body, causing damage to my spinal cord and brain. My ability to walk started to fade away, until eventually I had no other choice but to use a wheelchair. However, I never lost my spirit to compete and win even if it was in a different arena this time.

   When I recently discovered Wheelchair Tennis my life changed completely.  Each time I’m on the court I feel that freedom again. Each stroke on the ball feels like a punch back at life, and each push on my chair gives me the power to control my game. I keep reinventing myself in ways I never thought possible. The thrill of competition has become possible for me again, and it has played a huge role in my life, health, and well-being. I once again can hope, dream, and get excited about clear new goals and with them my American Dream has returned.
I am extremely grateful to Mindy and tropical wheelchair sports for providing me the vehicle to express my athletic juices. I also thank John Karter for teaching me the ropes of wheelchair life and coaching me in wheelchair tennis.

John Karter

My name is John Karter, I am a T6 -7 Paraplegic which means that I lost the use of my lower stomach muscles and legs. I use a wheelchair to get around. After my accident I found myself in a very dark place. I spent months in Rehab at Burke Rehabilitation Center, White Plains NY. One very important part of my Rehab was to get socially and physically involved. Burke offered many options one of which being wheelchair Sports. This was such an important part of my rehab as it put my mind into a great place as well as assisted in rebuilding muscles. I associated with the group Wheelchair athletes, having always been in sports prior to my accident I asked if I could join the group . I started playing Table Tennis and racing a special adapted wheelchair for long distance racing ! I competed with the legends of today ! For years I was a Wheelchair Marathoner. Unfortunately, I had to go to work and forgo racing. The sponsors and donors of the early 80's whom made this all possible started donating to the wounded warriors (our unspoken heroes) who were returning from serving our country with the same mental and physical issues I had from my accident. The down side of this was they did not put aside a percentage for wheelchair sports. Approximately 20 years ago I was introduced to Wheelchair Tennis and competed in the circuit as a middle of the road competitor. Due to my disability the less trunk muscles - balance you have limits your ability to be a top player. Three years ago I started the transition from high level competition to recreational and instructional wheelchair tennis. I met Mindy Rashbaum 1.5 years ago and with her assistance my transition has become greater into coaching but I am still competing in 5-6 tournaments a year, depending on finances. I have been working with Dayan Solar for over a year as a tennis coach and he is progressing rapidly. He is a shining star in the sport with great potential. I look forward to continue the training and competition necessary to further the mission of bringing awareness to wheelchair sports and athletes. With the assistance generated from Tropical Wheelchair Sports, I am able to participate and grow the program.

Captain Allen Fiske

I am from a small town in Massachusetts and spent most of my Summers on Cape Cod and Rhode Island beaches and waters. I lived in Connecticut for many years, owned three sailboats during that time and did much sailing on Long Island Sound. I had a dream of moving to a warm climate and living on a sailboat.In 1982 I was in a car wreck, became a paraplegic, and figured that was the end of my dream. I was introduced to Wheelchair Sports in 1983 by the Connecticut Spoke benders Wheelchair Sports Association, playing Wheelchair Basketball for almost ten years and trying Wheelchair Tennis sometime around 1988 at Yale University with Bonnie Maggy. Ironically, another sailor from Newport, Rhode Island, became a paraplegic at about the same time and started Shake-A-Leg, making sailing an accessible sport. Coincidentally, in 1990, I moved to South Florida and Shake-A-Leg opened a branch in Miami.

I was hired as Outreach Director for Shake-A-Leg Miami in 1994 and purchased a thirty-five foot sailboat “Minimum Balance”, which I ended up living aboard for twenty years. I helped Shake-A-Leg become the nation’s largest Disabled Sailing Program and Miami’s Community Watersports Center. Also in about 1994 a Wheelchair Tennis Program was started in Miami by Diana Richardson (Worrell) who now lives in Naples. She was head of the Miami Dade Parks Disability Division. I got involved and have been playing ever since. It has been a terrific complement to Sailing and has had a major positive impact on my life! Today, at age 71, I Sail a little and play Tennis a lot. Tennis has become my vehicle for staying healthy, competing, and just plain having a lot of fun with great people. I am very happy to be a part of Tropical Wheelchair Sports and look forward to improving my game through Mindy's Coaching and hopefully getting a little financial help with Travel Expenses through Sponsorships as well.

Diana Worrall

Before my injury I had a degree in physical education and health and had taught school for a year. A car accident made me a high level paraplegic (C-8/T1). I was fortunate to have met a wheelchair sports competitor from the University of Illinois (UI) doing his internship in Occupational Therapy in the rehab. hospital where I was a patient. He convinced me to go for graduate studies to UI. Once I got there I discovered that they had an enormous wheelchair sports program that offered anything you could think of. I was in heaven! Wheelchair sports became a
major focus for me since I got to UI at age 22. Since I’m now 72 that is 50 years of pushing in 10k’s and marathons, throwing shotput, discus and javelin, dribbling, peddling road bikes, swimming and scuba diving, shooting arrows, hitting tennis, pickleball, racquetball, and table tennis balls and even square dancing. It’s been fun trying them all out and competing in many. I was fortunate to have been a Paralympic level competitor over the course of my sports career and had opportunities to travel the world in various qualifying meets and competitions. As a
Recreation Therapist I have also had numerous opportunities to get involved in the organization of various sports, teams, classes and formed a number of regional sport competitions and tennis tournaments in the good old days. I became aware of Mindy through an article in the Naples Daily News featuring pickleball and offered to help in whatever ways I could. I also played pickleball for awhile but some arm and hand injuries have curtailed that for now. I’m very happy that Mindy has forged a wheelchair sports group here in Naples where it is definitely
needed. The power of wheelchair sports for people with disabilities parallels those without disabilities but for many who are just learning about their capabilities it is a springboard to achievement, self esteem, physical and mental improvement and just fun. For me, sports brought camaraderie, travel, skill development, physical improvement, joy and pride. I hope to help Mindy as she expands the program and helps budding athletes become all they can be through the power of sport.

Naples, Florida      |   tropicalwheelchairsports@gmail.com    |   239-206-0372

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