I remember many years ago when I was living in California and going to school, I could hardly wait until I was 13 because I would be able to get into the “Indoor Sports Club”. That was a group of teenagers and young adults with disabilities who all craved fun and adventure just like me. There was another group of able-bodied young adults called the “Good Sports”. They were the individuals who came alongside us and joined us to make our adventures possible. We went on outings like concerts, camping, swimming, parades and much more.
The thing that I remember most about this group is the sense of belonging that I felt. When I moved away from the area I really missed my friends.
For the next several years, I didn’t even know anyone affected by disabilities. Then I went to a Joni & Friends conference in California. Being there was wonderful. I felt as though it was okay to embrace a part of myself that I wanted to hide.
Throughout this time I also volunteered as a counselor at Good Samaritan Ministry. While I was there I began to realize how many people are I realized that even able bodied people are wounded. I began to realize that I was meant to feed into other people’s lives.
When I got home from the Joni and Friends conference, I started a group called Barrier Breakers. It was small group of handicapped people, who met together so that we could encourage each other. But soon it petered out
Several years later, I was thrilled when I heard that Joni & Friends was having their first Family retreat at Twin Rocks in Oregon. I was so determined to go that one of my other friends who was in an electric wheelchair and I took the greyhound bus to the camp. It was an incredible experience. It’s better than the ‘Indoor Sports Club’ because our sense of community is stronger. We share our faith in Christ, not just a disability.
Each year I’ve met more people who have the same passions that I have from the Portland area. We have partnered together to work toward starting a Joni & Friends Ministry here in Portland. The process of realizing dreams is often frustrating. Yet it’s thrilling to look back and see the path God has laid out for me.