Self-described "multi-disabled" outdoors guide wins Calif of Year from Outdoor Writers Assoc of CA
By: Outdoor Writers Association of California
"Winning this award will hopefully focus more attention on disability and perpetuate a discussion about equal access for people of every ability and reality," said Gray, who describes herself as multi-disabled:
Gray said what she does is "fight and challenge," in spite of her disabilities. At 16, she started rowing on rafting trips and at 18 became an assistant guide with a partner who was post-polio. "He was the eyes—good at reading the water—and I was the muscle. It was great fun and very exciting." Prior to BORP, she worked 23 years with Environmental Traveling Companions (ETC), which offers whitewater rafting and camping trips for people with disabilities.
The Californian of the Year Award includes a $300 stipend to be donated to the organization of the winner's choice. Gray selected Access Adventure, which operates on 2,000-acre Rush Ranch Farm on the northern edge of San Francisco Bay owned by Solano Land Trust. "We have 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 farther than we're able on our own because of the trails or wheelchairs,"
Access Adventure was founded in 2005 by Michael Muir, great-grandson of acclaimed naturalist John Muir. The organization provides outdoor adventures and recreation on modified horse-drawn carriages to people with disabilities. Michael Muir was the recipient of the Californian of the Year award in 2014.
The Californian of the Year Award was established in 1993 by OWAC, which was founded in 1985 and is comprised of media professionals covering all aspects of outdoor recreation. The non-profit organization offers media professionals support, collaboration, and networking opportunities with other experienced outdoor communicators throughout California and the western region. Working professionals passionate about the outdoors are invited to join and are eligible to attend conferences, and enter OWAC's prominent Craft Awards contest. For more information contact ED Semerau at owacEXEC@Gmail.com