Charles Webb — Founder of Stoke for Life Foundation geared towards adaptive water sports and ocean therapy healing

Charles Webb

My name is Charles Webb. I’m the founder of Stoke for Life Foundation. I’m a T 7-8 incomplete paraplegic. I’ve been paralyzed since 1986. I was 19 years old when I got injured. Oh, and Stoke for Life is my foundation. We’re a 501 C 3 that is geared towards adaptive water sports and ocean therapy healing. So my connection to access issues and the ADA is of course I am disabled. So, before my disability at 19, I really had no awareness of ability, I mean, access and all of that, because it didn’t really affect me. But that changed when I was 19 and I got my accident and accessibility really became to the forefront because of living situations where I lived was a huge problem. I lived in houses that had bathroom doors that were too small. Maybe two or three steps going into the doors.

So the access in let’s say residential areas as far as living wise was a huge problem for me going through the eighties, I was injured in ’86. So late eighties, early nineties, it really became more prevalent that in the residential area, that houses were being built with wider bathroom doors, more accessibility to the houses, more accessibility to the neighborhoods. And that’s when I really became more aware of it. Curbsides, stairs, going into stores, bathrooms in stores, bathrooms in restaurants, that whole stretch of accessibility became, am I able to go out? When I go out, I look, the first thing I do is how close is the bathroom? Is the bathroom accessible? So it became very prevalent and it became, and it became prevalent very fast. So there, the ADA has made a huge difference in a lot of places, in a lot of realms of society.

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Charles Webb
Charles Webb in a tube. He created the U.S. Open Adaptive Surfing Championships. Photo by McDaniel/Western Surfing

One of the places that it really needs help is in our beach and waterway communities. Largely there’s a lack of access for more disabled people in some of the realm of our society. You know, like our beach and waterway communities, like we mentioned, but also maybe in some bigger arenas in, you know, in society as far as like when you go to a park, when you go to a sporting event, when you go to work, when you go somewhere, you know, any kind of outing, the first thing that you might worry about is the access. So how do we fix that? How do we bring more awareness to, and more light to all of the access that we need everywhere from our stadiums, to our parks, to our beaches, to our lakes, to our, whatever it might be in your city that’s landlocked. If it’s a dirt track, if it’s whatever it might be, how can we bring awareness and, and how can we get those places accessible.

Adaptive Paddle Boarding

  • First Paraplegic Athlete to compete in an open water paddle board race
  • 2013 and 20014 Battle of the Paddle Open Group Race – 4.08 Miles
  • 2014, 2015, 2017, and 2018 HanoHano Huki Ocean Classic Short Course 5.2 Miles
  • Completed 2016 SFL Harbor to Harbor Ocean Challenge (25 mile open water paddle)
  • First Paraplegic to compete in Alcatraz “Escape from the Rock” duathlon    (3.5-mile paddle 7 mile run/wheel)

Adaptive Surfing

  • 2015 Founded “Stoke for Life Foundation” 501-C3 nonprofit
  • 2015 Western Surfing Association Adaptive Surfing Champion (Waveski Division)
  • 5th Place 2015 I.S.A. Adaptive Surfing World Championships
  • 4th Place 2015 Dukes Ocean Festival
  • 3rd Place 2015 U.S.A. Surfing National Adaptive Championships
  • 2nd Place 2016 Dukes Ocean Festival AccesSurf Adaptive Surfing Championships
  • 2nd Place 2016 U.S.A. Surfing National Adaptive Championships
  • 3rd Place 2017 U.S. Open Adaptive Surfing Championships
  • 4th Place 2017 U.S.A. Surfing National Adaptive Championships
  • 4th Place 2018 S.A. Surfing National Adaptive Championships
  • 3rd Place 2020 ISA Amp Surf Para Surfing Championships
  • S.A. Competition Committee Board member for 2015 and 2016 Adaptive Surfing World Championships

In partnership with Diana Pastora Carson, M.Ed.
Author: Beyond Awareness: Bringing Disability into Diversity Work in K-12 Schools & Communities, and children’s book Ed Roberts: Champion of Disability Rights, ADA 30th Anniversary Edition

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