Lowcountry nonprofit Adaptive Expeditions is making outdoor adventures and recreational sports accessible to disabled locals—and this month, it launches a first-of-its kind fishing tournament
When Holy City native Joe Moore moved home in 2011, he searched high and low for advice on how to safely and comfortably get outfitted into a sea kayak or on a surfboard, but he came up empty-handed. “As a lower-extremity amputee, the only places people could refer me to were the Special Olympics or therapeutic programs,” says Moore, a former environmental lawyer and lifelong outdoor enthusiast (he even summited Mount Kilimanjaro in 1989—12 years before the car accident that led to the loss of his left leg). “But I didn’t qualify for Special Olympics programs, and I didn’t need therapy.”
Turning his frustration into motivation, Moore founded Adaptive Expeditions (AE), a Charleston-based nonprofit that gives locals with physical or sensory disabilities access to the equipment and training needed to start an adaptive sports practice. “Once therapeutic needs are met, people with disabilities want coaches and instructors rather than therapists or medical rehabilitation professionals,” says Moore, noting that many therapists aren’t trained in the technical aspects of adaptive sport. “Adaptive Expeditions’ expertise lies squarely within this post-therapeutic niche.”
In 2016—a year after AE launched local operations—106 Lowcountry residents were able to surf, sail, swim, cycle, kayak, play tennis, or practice yoga during 54 clinics and events. To fund the clinics (almost all of which are free for participants) and make adaptive sports more accessible nationwide, AE also offers training and accreditation programs to individual instructors and organizations across the country, from the National Park Service Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program to the University of South Florida.
For local athletes, the nonprofit provides access to the plentiful health perks afforded by regular exercise (it’s known to zap stress, reduce one’s risk for depression, and boost confidence); plus, participants score a solid social network.
Want to lend your support? On June 24, AE hosts the Chucktown Redfish Roundup: a universally accessible freshwater fishing tournament at Colonial Lake; it’s the nonprofit’s largest fundraising event thus far. For a chance to reel in the $1,000 prize-winning fish, sign up at adaptiveexpeditions.org. “So much of what we do is about building community,” says Moore. “Giving people like myself the chance to get together and share ideas—that social connection is a real part of what we’re trying to provide.”
Photographs (2) courtesy of Adaptive Expeditions