Brooks Rehabilitation and JU announce launch of Adaptive Rowing Program

Program will be available at the newly constructed Negaard Rowing Center on the JU campus

Aug. 28, 2007


Now members of the community with disabilities can row on the St. Johns River with the opening of the Brooks Adaptive Rowing Program on the Jacksonville University campus. Thanks to a partnership between Brooks, JU and the City of Jacksonville, the program will be located in the new 15,000 square-foot, fully- accessible Negaard Rowing Center, built on the site of the former Russell Boat House.

"We are delighted that the river and the Negaard Rowing Center are now accessible to all athletes," said JU President Kerry Romesburg. "We couldn't have done this without our partners. We talked about opening up a facility in a way that hasn't been done before and, luckily, Brooks and the city shared that vision."

Adaptive rowing is the latest addition to the Brooks Adaptive Sport and Recreation Program which kicked off at the beginning of the year. Other sports that are active and available for any community member with a disability include wheelchair basketball, handcycling, adaptive tennis and rugby.

"We're so pleased to kickoff this wonderful program and be a part of this great partnership," said Doug Baer, president and CEO of Brooks Rehabilitation. "We knew right away how beneficial this program and this center would be. We hope that this will grow and become one of our best adaptive programs."

Programs like this provide much needed physical outlets for people with disabilities and also go a long way to meeting their social and emotional needs. This is the only program of its kind in the area.

"I have been amazed at the response we've had to our program," said Alice Krauss, manager of the Brooks Adaptive Sport and Recreation Program. "Many of our former patients were athletes before their accident, injury or illness that resulted in a disability. They are thrilled to have the opportunity to continue to participate in a physically active lifestyle."

"As the region's only rehabilitation hospital, we are committed to being a resource for improving the lives of those who live with disabilities in our community," said Gary Sneed, chairman of the board at Brooks Rehabilitation.

"It is incredible to watch people who have never had access to rowing experience it for the first time. We are excited to be a part of the development of this program," said head JU rowing coach Jim Mitchell. "This is all about creating passion and opportunities. Any time we can get someone out in a boat or in the river seeing dolphins or a manatee, that's what this is all about." JU's rich rowing history spans more than 50 years and has fielded competitive collegiate men's and women's rowing since 1956 and 1972, respectively.

Brooks invests $4 to $8 million annually in areas with the most impact on improving rehabilitative services in Northeast Florida; including: community health, funding for the uninsured, expanding research partnerships and funding for education.

Adaptive rowing was introduced into the Paralympic program in 2005 and will hold its first Paralympic events in Beijing in 2008. It is hoped that the Brooks Adaptive Rowing Program at JU will become a training hub for the United States Adaptive Rowing team. To make sure Adaptive Rowers learn the techniques of rowing before they hit the water; special equipment for both on the water rowing and indoor rowing machines were included as a result of Brooks' $221,000 sponsorship.

Adaptive rowers and program volunteers will also have an opportunity to learn from experts at a rowing clinic on September 28 and 29. For more information about the Brooks adaptive sports programs or to volunteer, please contact Alice Krauss at

Brooks Rehabilitation and JU announced the launch of an Adaptive Rowing Program at the Negaard Rowing Center on Tuesday morning.