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Sam Sullivan, founder of the Disability Foundation.

The Sam Sullivan Disability Foundation and its affiliated societies encourage and promote the capabilities of people with physical disabilities.

We want to see everyone, regardless of physical capabilities, participating fully in society as informed, active and financially-secure citizens.

Beginning in the late 1980s, tetraplegic Sam Sullivan founded a series of charitable groups to provide opportunities for people with disabilities:

The Tetra Society, which recruits technically skilled volunteers who have collectively made more than 5,000 ‘gizmos’ for people with disabilities throughout North America. The ConnecTra Society, which enables individuals to become more involved in their community by taking advantage of employment, training and social opportunities. The Disabled Sailing Association provides more than 1,000 life-changing sailing experiences each year, has catalyzed the formation of 20 similar programs through North America and has 150 of its fully accessible 16-foot sailboats in use throughout the world (and now has its own boat donation site). The BC Mobility Opportunities Society makes it possible for people with disabilities to access the great outdoors, from Metro Vancouver parks to adventures to far-flung destinations including Mt. Kilimanjaro and Everest Base Camp; there are currently 117 of its access-all-areas TrailRiders in use in programs worldwide. Vancouver Adapted Music Society puts musical self-expression within reach, supporting and promoting musicians, staging concerts and operating its own CD-quality studio. And the Disabled Independent Gardeners Association makes gardening accessible, enabling participants to grow fresh, healthy produce at home or in four community gardens across Vancouver.

The Disability Foundation is a fundraising entity to support these groups. We were launched as Reach in 1996, but renamed in Sam’s honour in 2001 – purely because there was already an organization named Reach that was not too happy about us using their name. (Sam himself voted against the suggestion but the board carried the day.)

Since its origin, the Sam Sullivan Disability Foundation has raised more than $20 million and provided quality of life opportunities for more than 10,000 people with significant disabilities. The Foundation supports six non-profit organizations and several other initiatives that provide services throughout Canada and beyond.

In recognition of his service to people with disabilities, Sam was invested as a member of the Order of Canada in 2005 and has been the recipient of the Terry Fox Award and the Christopher and Dana Reeve Award among many other honours. As mayor of Vancouver, Sullivan made a global statement about the capabilities of people with disabilities by waving the Olympic and Paralympic flags during the closing ceremony of the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy. He was later appointed Canada’s 2010 Paralympic Games Ambassador.

Sam is currently serving as the MLA for Vancouver-False Creek.


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Affiliated Societies
BC Mobility Opportunities Society
Connectra Society
Disabled Independant Gardeners Association of BC
Disabled Sailing Association of BC
Tetra Society of North America
Vancouver Adapted Music Society



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