As a lead-up to summer, seven coastal Florida State Parks recently received a total of 10 beach accessible floating wheelchairs through a continued partnership between the Florida State Parks Foundation and the Surfing’s Evolution & Preservation Foundation.

In order to create a more accessible beach experience, the wheelchairs can be used in areas with soft sand where conventional wheelchairs have difficulty navigating. With floating armrests and oversized wheels, users of WaterWheels® can also safely float in water.

“Enjoying the great beaches Florida has to offer is an opportunity that should be available to all,” said Tammy Gustafson, Florida State Parks Foundation President. “This partnership will allow our state parks to provide a day at the beach experience for those with mobility assistance needs who can engage with the water and sand features alongside their families, friends and loved ones.”

The following parks received one or more of the floating chairs: Deer Lake State Park, William J. ‘Billy Joe’ Rish Recreation Area, Grayton Beach State Park, Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park, Gasparilla Island State Park, Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park and John D. MacArthur Beach State Park.

Surfing’s Evolution & Preservation Foundation, Inc. is a charitable organization founded by surfing legend Ron DiMenna and his wife Lynne, to recognize the importance of the beach and surfing lifestyle in Florida and protect these beaches for future generations to enjoy. Their focus is on keeping the beaches safe and healthy, by supporting programs and events of other organizations that support beaches and oceans and promote education on beach safety.

“It is our pleasure to enhance beach accessibility for Florida state park visitors,” said Jacquie Youngs, Surfing’s Evolution & Preservation Foundation Administrator. “Ensuring those with mobility needs are able to enjoy the beach is an important mission and one we are proud to support with tangible resources through accessible wheelchairs.”

Last year, the Florida State Parks Foundation and the Surfing’s Evolution & Preservation Foundation delivered a total of 52 beach accessible chairs to coastal state parks that allow for movement over sand and can be wheeled into shallow water. The 10 most recently delivered WaterWheels® chairs also allow for water flotation.

The Florida State Parks Foundation, founded in 1993 as Friends of Florida State Parks and renamed in 2018, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation whose mission is to support and help sustain the Florida Park Service, its 175 award-winning parks and trails, local Friends groups and more than 20,000 park volunteers.

It does this through programs that preserve and protect state parks, educate visitors about the value of state parks, encourage community engagement and active use of state parks, and advocacy. The volunteer Board of Directors represents private and public sectors as well as local and statewide interests. This project was completed by the Florida State Parks Foundation Services LLC, which is a limited liability company affiliate of the Foundation.

About the Author: Foundation Staff