Award to Parks & Rec for providing sports to those with disabilities

The City’s Access Leisure Program Supervisor Annie Desalernos and her team get a picture snapped with former Indy driver Sam Schmidt, who presented the Spirit of Ability award to Access Leisure at the Sonoma Raceway.

A City Parks and Rec program providing recreation for those with disabilities is celebrating being presented with a prestigious award for its stellar work improving lives. Access Leisure, operating in the city for 48 years, has received the Ralph W. Braun Spirit of Ability Award and a $1,000 check.

The program team was recently honored at Sonoma Raceway. The Spirit of Ability award was created by mobility company BraunAbility to honor organizations like Access Leisure which make a notable difference in the lives of people with physical disabilities.

The City’s Access Leisure program offers some 500 sports and rec options to all community members with disabilities or serious injuries, ill and wounded veterans, and active duty members of the military.


“The ability to positively impact not just the individual that attends their events, but that person’s family, friends, and the community at large, is what inspires each member of the Access Leisure staff to ‘leave it all on the playing field’ when they suit up for work,” said Desalernos.

Sam Schmidt, a quadriplegic and IndyCar team owner (former driver), presented Access Leisure with the award.

The award is named in honor of the late Ralph Braun, who had muscular dystrophy but did not let that prevent him from inventing the first motorized scooter, wheelchair lift, and founding BraunAbility, today a worldwide leader of mobility equipment.