Leaving tracks in the sand: State parks have two new beach wheelchairs

June 27, 2021
By Marcy Shortuse

BY T MICHELE WALKER – For people with mobility issues, the beach can be difficult to navigate. Even a simple sunset viewing can be daunting.

Thanks to the Surfing Evolution and Preservation Foundation, Gasparilla Island State Park is getting a new beach wheelchair, which will make the sand accessible to everybody.

The Florida State Parks Foundation has partnered with Surfing’s Evolution and Preservation Foundation to provide beach wheelchairs at 10 of Florida’s most popular beach state parks. The new wheelchairs will be available by early summer.

Park Manager Bryon Maxwell, Gasparilla Island State Park said, “We’re excited and grateful for the opportunity to increase access for all at Gasparilla Island State Park. These new wheelchairs will help ensure that individuals who use mobility aids and devices will be able to experience all that this beautiful park has to offer. Special thanks also go to our partners at the Florida State Parks Foundation and their collaboration with Surfing’s Evolution and Preservation Foundation.”

The beach wheelchairs can be used in areas with soft sand where conventional wheelchairs would get stuck. They can even be wheeled into shallow waters. Ten coastal parks around the state each receive one wheelchair.

“Increasing accessibility for all is one of our missions and these new beach wheelchairs will allow people with mobility problems the opportunity to get on the beach with their family and friends. They will help create a new experience for them,” said Florida State Parks Foundation President Gil Ziffer.

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.

“Surfing’s Evolution & Preservation Foundation is excited to partner with the Florida State Parks Foundation to provide beach wheelchairs to ten of its parks. We believe that our beaches should be enjoyed by everyone and we are so pleased to be able to increase accessibility for people who may not be able to get on the beach without assistance,” said Stacey Kirby, Foundation Administrator. “It is our hope that these Sand Rider beach wheelchairs will be enjoyed by many beach lovers for years to come.

For more information on the beach wheelchairs, call the state park office at 964-0375.