Once the voting had been compiled and all the ballots counted, our membership named Ms. Lori Gray, OWAC 2020 Californian of the year.
Ms. Gray received the honor for her work opening the outdoors to disabled individuals over the years. Along with the honor a $300.00 cash award is given and Ms. Gray has opted to donate her cash award to Access Adventure, spear-headed by past COY recipient, Mr. Michael Muir.
Here’s what Lori Gray had to say:
Winning this award will hopefully focus more attention on disability out in the environment and perpetuate a discussion about equal access for people of all ability and reality. As someone who’s been impacted in such a significant and positive way by nature – to get more people talking and giving more information about my situation that the outdoors can be enjoyed by everyone regardless of their disability. I guess not so much what people say it’s what they end up doing. Other people wind up joining in on the trips. People’s horizons have been broadened and there is a way to safely enjoy the parks, open spaces, beaches and all these beautiful places have to offer. The community I work with have come to love and enjoy nature – which is something they were not doing before. Rather than saying things to me, that hopefully us being out there – because the group is so positive – that it makes it a positive experience for everyone, and others are more receptive because they understand the benefit.
Asking why people with disabilities want to go out in Nature. The question is, “Why do you?” I can open the door further and give guidance to the parks or other organization and hopefully that provides a road map for what is supposed to happen to provide equal access.
We’ve been working with Access Adventure for more than 12-years doing carriage rides both at Rush Ranch and camping trips to Point Reyes – the opportunity to go further then we’re able to go on our own due to our limitations because of the trails or wheelchairs. With the modified carriages which have wheelchair lifts and wheels, we were able to see the ocean and hear the waves. People are still talking it. Because of the impact of these carriage rides and partnership it has offered is why I wanted the funds to go to Access Adventure And especially now – during the Corona virus – they, like many nonprofits, are being more challenged. It has been a wonderful partnership. We love working together and look forward to more programs in the future.”