Read Our Year End Appeal

When BORP was founded, back in 1976, computers were big enough to fill a room and telephones plugged into a wall. Wheelchairs were clunky contraptions, more akin to bulky tanks than the sleek, lightweight speed machines used today. The idea that anyone might let a machine make choices for them was something for the science fiction pages. 

But here we are in 2024 inhabiting the sci-fi future of the ‘70’s; self-driving cars are starting to roam the streets and we carry all the information we could ever want (and more) in our pockets.

You can’t do this with AI

For people with disabilities, these revolutionary advances have dramatically improved independence, connectivity, and mobility. Screenreaders and voice recognition software unlock instant information and connection for the visually impaired. Cutting edge sporting prosthetics empower athletes to bike faster and climb higher. Offroad wheelchairs attachments help break new ground literally and metaphorically.

But even as these advances are made, human connection remains essential, perhaps more important now than ever. ChatGPT can never replace the authentic human connection that makes BORP programs so special. BORP is the expert and caring hands that fit you in a kayak and work to find a modification so you can paddle independently; we’re the smiling face when you return from a ride; the fitness instructors who spend hours planning themed classes and inclusive workouts. This is why so many people feel that BORP is like family. Because, more than anything else, BORP is people—literally if you look at our budget, 68% is spent on people.

People like Jorge. This fall BORP Program Associate Jorge Macias’ story was featured in the East Bay Times. You may know Jorge from BORP cycling, fitness, climbing, or wheelchair basketball. Two days before Jorge’s 18th birthday, he was the victim of gun violence that left him paralyzed from the chest down. A few years later, Jorge attended a BORP event, and our programs became the catalyst through which he rebuilt his life. But Jorge’s story doesn’t begin or end there. His is part of an on-going human narrative. We recently received a letter from Jennifer, the mother of Milo, who has been coming to BORP programs for about a year:

My son was 18 and newly blind, Frontal lobe damage and TBI [Traumatic Brain injury]. He was living at a facility for the blind, [and] had stopped doing activities. Because of you, he learned with me/moms’ help—then solo—to take the bus to you, develop a routine. He had contact with healthy, can-do folk with positive attitudes. To be with peers with jobs, skills—all of this so important with trauma, isolation and needing to rebuild a sense of self. Just getting the bikes ready to go was fantastic: Jorge in his wheelchair, Milo holding on to the back of Jorge’s chair as they went to get the bikes, then holding a tool for Jorge as he adjusted this and that… I could tell was the best part of his week. 

Milo and Jorge at the Cycle Center

She goes on to say how seeing Jorge living such a fulfilling, independent life, gave Milo the fortitude to attend Colorado School for the Blind where he aspires to be an English teacher and give back to other youth. And so it goes. The life-changing impact that BORP has on a person is not a one-time deal. It reverberates throughout their whole lives and compels them to spread these opportunities to others who need them.

BORP has a tremendous impact, yet there’s so much more to be done. We currently engage less than 1% of the 105,000 people with ambulatory and vision impairments in Alameda County. Even so, due to rising costs and funding that hasn’t kept pace, we are running a 200K+ deficit:

But we’re on it. We’ve got a remarkable community behind us and a galvanizing plan to bridge the gap and increase our impact. In 2024 we are going to roll out a new participant portal that will ease admin and facilitate membership giving. We are going to expand our footprint and extend our outreach while cutting program costs. We’ll continue holding house parties to reconnect with donors and share our plans with transparency and clear organizational goals.

We hope you are as excited about BORP’s future as we are because we need your support to get us there. There are many ways to contribute, and we hope you will consider them all! Host a house party! Ride the Rev (May 12, 2024, save the date)! Finally, and most immediately, donate today and invest in our vision to grow BORP until everyone has access to the transformative power of adaptive recreation.

Thank you,