Meet the Event Speakers!
Here are 2023 Abilities Expo presenters.
Check back to find out what's in store for 2024.
Meet the speakers for the activities, demonstrations, and events at Abilities Expo Fort Lauderdale! They bring years of experience and knowledge to the events they will share with you. Many are recognized regionally and nationally for their ongoing work with the disability community. All Abilities Expo speakers have apparent and non-apparent disabilities, work in the disability field, or are the sibling or parent of a person with disabilities.
* The dates, times, topics, and speakers for these events are subject to change without notice. The opinions presented at the events are those of the speakers and do not necessarily represent the opinions of Abilities Expo. Event content should not be considered as a replacement or substitute for the services of trained professionals in any field, including, but not limited to, financial, medical, or legal matters. We encourage you to seek the advice of professionals, as appropriate, regarding the evaluation of any specific information presented in these events.
Justin Graham, NASM-CPT, FNS
Certified Personal Trainer and Founder, WOW Wheelchair Fitness
Justin Graham, creator of WOW Wheelchair Fitness, is a Certified Personal Trainer who has been working with the disability community since 2018. He has taught classes with Paralyzed Veterans Association (PVA), Triumph Sports Festival, Ability360 in Phoenix, Spina Bifida Association, and the Abilities Expos shows around the country. His dynamic charm attracts everyone to join his wheelchair fitness classes, combining strength training with dance, pom-poms, and just plain fun! Justin teaches fitness classes daily on the virtual platform WOW Wheelchair Fitness, which provides consistent, organized fitness and personal training via online sessions to increase healthy happiness in the disability community! Whether seated, standing or rolling, W.O.W. is designed for everyone to use! Justin excels at enticing even the shyest student to play along and get valuable exercise. Justin is based in Phoenix, AZ where he teaches live classes and one-on-one personal training in addition to his online classes. His joyous energy is a gift, bringing people of all ages and abilities together to dance with their peers.
Event: WOW Wheelchair Fitness Class
Executive Director, CDK
Public awareness and education are very important to CDK – so important that they travel the country to talk to students of all grade levels, civic groups, religious groups, and businesses about assistance dogs. CDK also offers different ways to help educate the public about service dogs including Educational Presentations, Booth Event Participation, Americans with Disability (ADA) consulting. Members of CDK staff and volunteers travel all over the country for these opportunities. Please contact the CDK team to learn more about how we might participate in your school, business, or community event.
Event: All About Service Dogs
Karen Peterson Dancers
Karen Peterson Dancers was founded in 1990 and is dedicated to the development, education, and presentation of physically integrated dance and has brought together dancers with diverse abilities as a role models for the dance and disability communities for thirty years. The organization has presented an annual season of new work at multiple venues throughout South Florida and has invited hundreds of dance artists to be part of the company's creative and inclusive performance process. The troupe has performed nationally, at festivals in New York to Washington, D.C., and performed in nine countries overseas, including Brazil, Spain, Ireland, Serbia, Guatemala City, and Portugal. In honor of her work, Ms. Peterson has received a "Lifetime Achievement Award" from the New World School of the Arts, a Bank of America "Cultural Award" from the American Red Cross, and a "Queen of the Arts" Award from the Ft. Lauderdale Herald. In 2019, the company was named "Best Dance Company" in Miami by the New Times and received the 2017 Boston Conservatory Alumni Entrepreneurial Award to support the presentation of "Warmamas: a Performance" at the Judson Memorial Church, NYC. KPD has produced the annual international festival of physically integrated dance, "Forward Motion" in 2018, 2019, 2021, and 2022 with the support from the Knight Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts and has brought together leading PI dance companies from around the country, including Candoco. Kinetic Light, Heidi Latsky, Axis, Dancing Wheels and Full Radius. Karen is a 2022 recipient of The Boston Conservatory at Berklee School of Music Alumni Achievement Awards for her "dedicated work in the field and contributions to society" and was invited to be part of a three-city NEA funded tour.
Event: Physically Integrated Dance!
Memorial's Fort Lauderdale Sharks
The Fort Lauderdale Sharks are a wheelchair basketball team that works to promote sports for people with a disability to have fun in a competitive environment. The program was started by Sherrod Nelson in 2013 and he has much to do with the team's success. They made it to the championship round in 2016, three years after the program started. Their program serves adults and juniors.
Event: Wheelchair Basketball
Shifting Gears United
Shifting Gears United is dedicated to changing lives and positively impacting and sustaining individuals living with various disabilities. The organization focuses on mental health and ensuring inclusion, whole wellness, independence and access to a better quality of life for those in need, through their sports programs. They provide adaptive sports programs, equipment, coaching, training, and facilitation of educational clinics. SGU gives back to the community by volunteering for various events, projects, that focus on feeding their community and food drives.
Events: Handcyling, Kayaking and Rowing, Sports Zone
South Florida Rattlers Wheelchair Rugby Team
Meet South Florida's only Wheelchair Rugby Team! The South Florida Rattlers Wheelchair Rugby Team is a member of the USWRA. The team travels to tournaments as a competitive program. The team is comprised of advanced and newer athletes who are learning how to play. No experience is necessary to attend practices with the team. For more details and participation information visit facebook.com/RattlersRugby.
Event: Wheelchair Rugby
Founder of Zot Artz
Zot Artz creates art experiences and art tools for everyone. They also create entirely new art activities for people with disabilities and invite everyone to join in. Zot Artz experiences empower all individuals to reach their fullest potential through meaningful social experiences and interactions. Inclusive art making offers everyone the opportunity to express themselves and make their mark. Parents, friends, and family members share the experience and the joy that creating art can bring. Founder Dwayne Szot is just the right combination of artist, engineer, and big brother to excel at helping individuals of all abilities experience the joy of making a mark and creating art. He grew up in a mid-western foster home with a foster brother and sister who both had cerebral palsy. Other children and adults with disabilities lived in the home and Szot observed and respected the challenges they faced. He credits that experience with giving him the motivation to create Zot Artz.
Event: Zot Artz Experience
USTA Florida Wheelchair Tennis
USTA Florida Wheelchair Tennis is the hub of all things Florida wheelchair tennis. As a volunteer organization we not only help people play tennis; we also help build communities. Our mission is to promote and develop tennis for all! From youth to college to adult, we make tennis fun for all. We work with public and private facilities and organizations across the state to create more opportunities for you to play. That's our mission and we're pretty proud of it. Visit our website to learn how you can get started playing tennis, where to play, answers to common questions, and more.
Event: Tennis for All!
Adventure Athlete and Founder, No Limits
Mark Wellman is a nationally acclaimed author, filmmaker, and motivational speaker. Despite being paralyzed in a mountain climbing accident, Mark has inspired millions to meet their problems head-on and reach for their full potential. A two-time Paralympian and former Park Ranger at Yosemite National Park, Mark's "No Limits" philosophy encourages individuals to adventure into new horizons; to go beyond the seeming unreachable. Mark is the first paraplegic to summit El Capitan and Half Dome in Yosemite National Park. He dedicates his time to improving the quality of life for adults and children with disabilities including disabled war veterans through his company No Limits.
Event: Adaptive Climbing Wall