Dreams Do Come True

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Kirk Burchfield has loved listening to country music star, Reba McEntire for as long as he can remember, in fact, he does not like listening to anything but Reba all day, every day.  He has long wanted to see her live but it wasn’t until April 26, 2015 when she was scheduled to perform at The Country Life Music Festival at Florida Tracks and Trails in Punta Gorda that his dream came true.  Kirk bought his ticket and planned his big day.  Because most of the facility is grassy,  he was not sure how close he was going to be or how much of Reba he was going to be able to see due to limitations with maneuvering on grass and soil but what mattered most was he was going to a Reba McEntire concert- he was going to see Reba!!  Kirk was not only able to watch the entire performance but the crew at Tracks and Trails moved him into the very front row where he was also able to give her a note he had written for her.  He enjoyed every minute of the concert, sang every song with her and is so thankful to the people at the Cape Coral Cluster and Tracks and Trails who helped him make this dream come true.

Cape Coral Adopts A Greyhound, Gets A Resident Pet Therapist

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Jacob is a retired racing greyhound.  And while Florida is known as an oasis and “escape” for many recent retirees, Jacob took another path.  Recently, he embarked upon his second career as a pet therapist.

Cape Coral Area Director, Leslie Steiner, stated,  “It is widely accepted that rescue pets make excellent therapy dogs.  They have overcome hardships and have special needs themselves.  So, it seemed like a “good fit”  and it was one of the key factors that led us to Greyhound Advancement Centerlast year when we started our search for a “pet therapist.”

The young men living in United Cerebral Palsy of Southwest Florida’s Cape Coral group home could not be happier!  Jacob also makes his rounds at the Cape Coral Adult Day Training Center each week.  Jacob is accompanied in his rounds by Shannon Duffy- QIDP and Leah Watson.

Both UCP trainers attended Jacob’s “graduation” from the inmate training program in Sarasota on June 14th. They were able to see him and learn his commands.  “Jacob can do almost anything including things like pushing a button to open an automatic door and other typical “service pet assistance tasks, ” added Ms. Duffy.   That being said and not too surprisingly, Jacob’s favorite “job” is being petted.  The healing partnership provides invaluable physical and emotional therapy.  Pets like Jacob help to lower blood pressure, reduces anxiety, mitigate inappropriate behavior as well as help to improve motor skills and acquire life skills.  Jacob has a lot to do – though admittedly, he may not always look like it.

Needless to say, Jacob is already a well-loved member of the Cape Coral family.  In fact, housemate Brian refers to Jacob as “his son” and likes when Jacob rests at his feet — which is also a favorite spot for Jacob.   Proud-papa Brian is already making plans to host and celebrate Jacob’s  third birthday, in less than a month, on July 22nd.  Happy {early} birthday Jacob!!

Gear-Up Florida Makes A Pit Stop in Cape Coral



Since 1997, over 300 Pi Kappa Phis have participated in Gear Up Florida. This 800-mile cycling event kicks off on the shores of Miami, travels through the Florida orange fields, reaches the Gulf coast, passes through Orlando, comes back to the Atlantic coast and culminates at the State Capitol in Tallahassee. The team spreads a message of acceptance and understanding of people with developmental disabilities to communities in Florida through newspapers, radio and television, civic groups and community leaders, reaching millions of people annually.

On Monday, May 13, 2013, Gear-Florida rolled into Cape Coral, Florida.  The 800-mile-trekkers had lunch at Sunrise’s very own United Cerebral Palsy of Southwest Florida.  This is one of the most unique aspects of the annual program.  Team members visit up to three (3) different organizations that support people with disabilities. There team members see the direct impact of their volunteer mission on the people for which the monies are rasied.  It is a very emotional experience for most team members.

Self-advocates, staff and administration at UCP of Southwest Florida were thrilled to host the Pi Kappa Phis.  In turn, the team members appeared to be touched by the gratitude and appreciation shown during the lunch stop.

When the trip is complete, we hope that team members will return and build upon the seeds of friendship planted today!

Rock & Roll For Charity: UCP in Cape Coral to Host First Annual MusicFest on March 10th, 2013


United Cerebral Palsy of Southwest Florida proudly announces the date for its First Annual Music Festival in Cape Coral, Florida.  The inaugural event will kick-off on Sunday, March 10th at 3:00 p.m. at the Dixie Roadhouse.    The Music Festival will be hosted by ESP Entertainment and features eight live bands!  Scheduled entertainment includes Cody Vagle, DVS, 10,000 Views, Renee Hose, Model Citisin, Myth, Grayson Rogers Band andSuperbreed.  All proceeds will go to United Cerebral Palsy in Cape Coral and will benefit people with developmental disabilities.  In addition to the Dixie Roadhouse and ESP Entertainment, additional proud sponsors of the UCP benefit include Pioneer Printing and Signs, 94.5 The Arrow, 99X South Florida‘s Rock Station and the Boater Map.

Though music is the primary focus, this festival offers so much more!  Besides great performances and fun, there is FOOD—lots and lots of FOOD.  From the onset of the festival, down-home aromas of country-inspired fare will begin wafting through the city.  If heaven has a scent, this might just be it!  For more information email:

The Right To Play… Sports As A Tool For Inclusion

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Sports change a person.  Whether the activity includes a new workout routine embarked upon as part of a new year’s resolution or the activity is part of an intense training program for a professional athlete or even recess for a young student, the mental and physical benefits of physical activity are well documented.  For a person with a developmental disability, participation in a competitive sport has a profound and exponential impact.  That is because the positive changes are experienced by the athlete with a disability as well as his/her fellow competitors and all spectators. Inclusion raises awareness about the abilities of all people and it builds relationships that foster diversity in our communities.

For the past two years, Athletes in Tandem have competed in Naples-based triathlons with teammates from United Cerebral Palsy of Southwest Florida.  Athletes in Tandem prepared teammates with disabilities from our Cape Coral operations in the use of adaptive equipment to race.  For some, the race marked their first experience “taking risks” on their own (whether it be racing at a fast pace; swimming in deep waters, “battling” in a bike race or even climbing a mountain out in Colorado!)

The gradual acquisition of skills and accomplishments from the team races build the self-confidence needed to take on other life challenges… just look on the faces of our local athletes.  Sports are an essential gateway to educating others about the contributions of people of all abilities.  Thank you to Team Tandem for supporting community inclusion!!

Success Story: My Special Friend

Guest Blogger:  Traci Miller, Adult Day Training Center Director

Lisa was placed in a respite home on an emergency basis due to family issues and has now moved into a Supported Living home with the assistance of her in-home caretaker. She lives with a roommate and loves every minute of it.

Lisa has had an awesome time being able to pick out her own furniture for her room. It’s white and pink which are her two favorite colors. She has two poodles and enjoys taking care of them, making sure they are well fed, and have plenty of water and exercise. Lisa has been able to go on outings, something she had not been able to experience before coming to Sunrise.

Recently, she went to the flea market and made the decision to buy a bird that she has named “Lil Tracie”. She has taken a four day weekend to Sanibel Island, again, something she was not able to do before. And her in-home caretaker just took her to get a passport so she can take her first cruise vacation later this year. Lisa has been working in the Housekeeping Department at the Cape Coral Cluster and has her eye on another position! Her determination and love of life has allowed her to make great strides over this past year, and we’ll be cheering her on as we watch her blossom.

I hope you have enjoyed Lisa’s story, and if there is ever an opportunity for you to meet her, it will be your pleasure. She is a loving, caring, individual and I have the opportunity to be a part of her life.