About Shared Adventures
Founded in 1994 by Foster Andersen, a quadriplegic survivor of a spinal cord injury, Shared Adventures has provided hundreds of life-enriching recreational and social activities for people with special needs.
Foster saw a community in need
According to 2000 Census data, there are over 10,063 individuals ages 16 to 64 with work disabilities, mobility limitations and self-care limitations in Santa Cruz County. This represents over 6.5% of the population. There are too few recreational programs and activities available to meet the needs of physically and developmentally challenged populations on the Central Coast.
Shared Adventures opens doors
We create opportunities to enjoy arts and social interaction, as well as engage with the natural environment through outdoor recreation. Our diverse Calendar of Activities includes kayaking, art classes, surfing, trips to local venues, sailing, indoor rock-climbing, river rafting, dance parties with live music, archery, camping trips, whale watching, bowling, horseback riding, table tennis and much more. We are always searching for new, fun activities to add to our calender, so keep checking back for updates!
Our goal is to offer opportunities for social and recreational interaction for disabled people, and thereby encourage:
- Personal growth, development, and self-confidence
- Cooperation, decision-making, and leadership skills
- Outdoor skills and environmental awareness
- Improved quality of life and level of happiness
We are the only program in Santa Cruz County that offers a year-round calendar of recreational events that is completely inclusive! We cater to people of all walks of life, including age, disability, and our veterans.
Shared Adventures has been a Paralympic Sport Club since 2012. The U.S. Paralympics, a division of the U.S. Olympic Committe, and Shared Adventures have partnered to create Paralympic Sport – Santa Cruz.
Paralympics Sport Clubs are community-based programs developed to involve youth and adults with physical and visual disabilities, including active duty service members and veterans, in ongoing sports and physical activity, regardless of skill level.
For more information about our Paralympics activities and the U.S. Paralympics overall, visit the official US Paralympics site at teamUSA.org.
Board of Directors
Foster Andersen, Founder/President
Foster’s incredible adventure began when, at seventeen, during the summer between his junior and senior years of high school, life as he knew it ended.
An active and athletic youth, Foster was riding his motorcycle—his source of freedom and independence—in the Upstate New York woods where he often journeyed to commune with nature. When he awoke in the hospital, unable to move, it had been two weeks since the accident. He’d been in a coma. For six seconds, he’d touched death when his heart stopped beating. He vividly recalls the out-of-body experience.
But Foster was far from done with the world. Seven months later, he left the hospital. First priority? “I wanted to get outdoors again. I wanted to get unstuck.”
He wouldn’t be able to walk, but he would go on to bungee jump out of a hot air balloon. Not to mention scuba dive, surf, chair-ski, sail, follow the Grateful Dead, drive across the country in a van with a parrot, attend engineering school, invent and get a patent for a Frisbee for quadriplegics, the Quad-Bee… An inventor and an innovator, Foster’s adventures were far from over—they were beginning… just in a very different way than he ever could have imagined.
Living adventurous to the max, Foster’s calling became to Share the Adventure with others in the disabled community.
“So many people say, ‘You can’t do that,’” Foster says. “My mom told me, ‘There’s no such thing as can’t.’ When I started doing things she didn’t want me to, I’d tell her, ‘Remember what you said… Whether it’s people born with a disability or people like me, there is life after challenge.”
Foster helped co-found Shared Adventures with a sit-ski program in 1985, in Rochester, NY. Now, Foster has been running the Shared Adventures program in Santa Cruz for over twenty-one years.
Jackie has over a decade of experience working with special needs individuals. She has spent several years working as a classroom aid in special education programs, & has also served as an at-home aid for young people with various physical & mental disabilities. Jackie earned her BA in Sociology at the University of California, Santa Cruz with a minor in Education. She is committed to creating exciting and fun experiences for those with disabilities & believes education, activity, & recreation are key components of a positive lifestyle.
For over 20 years, Geneva has been actively involved in the nonprofit world, where she puts her passion for community building to work though building marketing campaigns, administration, and fundraising. In her previous career as a financial adviser, she was a distinguished recipient of the Morgan Stanley Outstanding Performance Award. After stepping away from the hectic pace of investment banking, she and her husband, Steven, moved to Reno, NV, where she continued work on independent marketing projects, co-producing a business talk radio show, “The Cheri Hill Show,” and raising five children. In 2015, she moved back to Santa Cruz with her family, where she and Steven are active in local charity events, creating positive change in the community. When not working or attending one of her boys’ sporting events, Geneva can be found at the beach exploring the shore with her family.
In 2015, Elijah climbed into an old VW van in Lake Placid and climbed out in Santa Cruz, California. Home is where the heart is, which makes the world Eli’s home—but he sure does relish that California Wave Chorus, those Odysseus Star Stories, and the warm and glowing faces of the people. He went up the mountains to touch the sky and down to the ocean to hear the heartbeat of the world. A bicycle ferried him from one colorful arena to another. As his passion for helping people grew, he received his master’s degree in Recreation Therapy, going on to become a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist and outdoor guide whose dream come true is getting to play outside for work. After running a non-profit organization that brought people who needed assistance with skiing, hiking, or biking the gear and help they needed to be a part of the spirit of the outdoors, Eli needed to get back into something bigger than him (per usual). And here it is. And here he is. And here we are, thankful, grateful, and excited to have him on our team.
Open Art Studio Instructor
Anastasia Torres-Gil is an accomplished artist, having exhibited her acrylic paintings throughout the California Bay Area and New York. Anastasia enjoys competing in Trashion shows, where she “upcycles” unconventional materials into elaborate garments. She is also an award-winning designer of dog & guinea pig couture. Anastasia’s artistic philosophy is to embrace one’s own creativity and create with boldness and fun.