39EGYTtHRxIslKLPambXIVQ5uLXLWoflphZUrGfi7JY Angle Oar Adaptive Kayaking Equipment page contents E1238296C9AB2A3A16BD08114EFAF308
  • Meg McCall

Making the Most of Second Chances

As a young man, David Jones was an avid outdoorsman: hunting, SCUBA diving, fishing and a general love of nature filled his days. Growing up in Tallahassee, Florida, he graduated from Amos P. Godby High School and Tallahassee Community College. He went on to enjoy a 14-year career with Winn Dixie Stores until founding and operating Cecils' Deli, his own small business. That all changed in 1988 when Jones was shot in the head while turkey hunting, which left him in a coma for nine days. Though he survived the traumatic brain injury, he stayed for three months at HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital and engaged in a full year of extensive rehab and recovery before he could walk, talk and function again. “I was blessed to have a much more successful rehab than anticipated. I was given a second chance at life,” he said.

David Jones

The experience, and the lessons he learned during rehabilitation, completely changed his world view. “The value of the recreational therapy really motivated me, it gave me the desire to reach out and help others through recreation and leisure activities,” noted Jones.

But in 1988, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) did not yet exist, and Jones wasn’t quite sure where to start. He said there were no resources to help guide him, so he figured it out on his own. He came up with the idea of the Florida Disabled Outdoors Association (FDOA) while attending the College of Business at Florida State where he finished his degree in marketing. His new occupational path became disability advocacy. “That was my new direction, my goal in life, to help others.” Just two years later, in 1990, Jones founded FDOA, the same year ADA was enacted.

FDOA started by doing mostly local outings and trips. “We stumbled from time to time,” Jones noted, but over time the organization became statewide in scope, partnering with volunteers, colleges and community organizations to deliver programs to thousands of people. The organization’s most recognized event, SportsAbility, started because of a water skiing clinic and is now hosted in multiple cities across the country. “As I was helping others, I learned that everyone has different interests, so we expanded our reach to all types of leisure activities,” explained Jones.

A Dangerous Kayaking Experi