Jonathan, Zoe, & Paola

At first glance, 32-year-old Jonathan, 15-year-old Zoe, and 32-year-old Paola may not seem to have much in common. However, each attended Wings of Friendship (WOF) last summer, and their favorite camp experience was listening to and interacting with legendary disability rights activist, Judy Huemann. Jonathan recalled being excited to directly ask Judy a question and hopes to follow the path of her motivating journey. Zoe described that she learned more about how the disabled community can be overlooked and decided that she wanted to advocate for those who might not have a voice for themselves. Paola was impressed how Judy not only taught the campers interesting facts, but that she also empowered them to think, analyze, and tackle problematic issues. Paolo recalls, “Judy spoke with the group—not just to them.” 

The most impressive tie that binds these three together, however, is that they were each involved with their own forms of activism even before hearing Judy Huemann’s inspirational message. 

Jonathan founded RISE in 2020, which is a grassroots movement created to foster inclusion and access for people with limited mobility and speech. Essentially, RISE educates local businesses and venue owners about opportunities to make their location more accessible to disabled customers and provides resources on easy, inexpensive solutions that make the location more inclusive. For example, RISE’s Ring in Inclusivity Initiative asks owners to consider adding an inexpensive, easy to install wireless doorbell to the exterior of their location, so that customers with disabilities can request entry assistance in an empowering way. Kudos to Jonathan for making a difference in his community and beyond.

Zoe was a sixth-grader when her neighboring school, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, was met with tragedy in 2018. Her activism was sparked when she decided she wanted to turn her anger into something positive. She found an inclusive home away from home in The Friendship Journey. Here, she has been helping to foster relationships and enrich lives ever since. Pretty invaluable work for someone who can’t yet legally drive on her own.

Paola, a full-time wheelchair user, blogs and hosts the website, This online community forum shares accessibility tips and tutorials for wheelchair users and people with limited mobility, along with related resources and lifestyle news. It’s truly ‘the hub’ of all things accessible. The site contains tutorials and guides on how to make life more accessible on all sorts of topics—from what answers to seek before visiting a venue to expert tips on how to host an outdoor summer barbeque. Paola received her bachelor’s degree in advertising from the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale, and her talented skills can be observed throughout her work.

The COVID pandemic and subsequent quarantine changed a lot of things this past year, and Jonathan, Zoe, and Paola were already well aware that during challenging times, you have to look for the good. They agree that the formation of Camp Wings of Friendship was a game-changer. With its virtual format, The Friendship Journey and Dylan’s Wings of Change now have the opportunity to reach more people than ever before. It offers opportunities to make true connections and provides a safe place to discuss commonalities, struggles, and achievements. The leadership team understands that those who feel different might initially be hesitant to participate. But participants like Jonathan, Zoe, and Paola are proof that if you allow a little bit of vulnerability to overcome your fear of the unknown, anyone can come out of their shell and reap the benefits.