South Florida Organization Helping Local Athletes Break Barriers

A South Florida non-profit is reaching worldwide proportions, helping thousands overcome their physical disabilities.

https://www.nbcmiami.com/news/local/south-florida-organization-helping-local-athletes-break-barriers/117458/


"I Am Adaptive" is an organization using strength to overcome physical disabilities and redefine the word handicap.


Doing back squats with one arm, it doesn't take Jonathan Lopez long to up his weight to 245 pounds. The 36-year-old veteran was injured overseas by a drunk driver while serving infantry.


Lopez is just one of thousands of people with physical disabilities who have found this organization that helps them stack the deck in their favor.


"They have helped me reach so many people that I wouldn't have been able to reach on my own," Lopez said.


"I Am Adaptive," founded by Marilyn and Ellyse Zosia, aims to educate, socialize and mobilize both the handicap and veteran communities. But their mission began with warming up people to the concept of not saying handicap or disabled.


"The moment someone incurs a trauma, they may be told, 'You now need to use a wheelchair or a prosthetic to get around.' The moment you tell them they're handicap or disabled, something happens mentally," Marilyn Zosia said.


That's how Chris Raborg said he felt in 2011 after a motorcycle accident on I-95 caused traumatic brain injury and paralyzed his left arm.

"I had to learn how to walk, talk and swallow. I had to learn everything again," Raborg explained.


Through "I Am Adaptive," Raborg learned how not to let the accident weigh his life down.

"Really good, actually. Amazing. Because I didn't think I was ever going to be able to do anything. Thought I was just going to be sitting on the couch in a wheelchair," he said.


Over the last two years, "I Am Adaptive" has created a global network from South Florida where adaptive individuals connect and thrive on teamwork to make life better.


"We want to empower people all over the world. To really know what they can be capable of and see what each other is doing and pushing the boundaries of every day life," Marilyn expressed.