Paul Gray, Board Chairman, is the founder of RISE. Paul has built many successful businesses in his corporate career. After retiring in 2006, he spent a year as the CEO of another outreach organization. Paul has been around individuals with physical disabilities since 1969 when a friend became paralyzed in a car accident. Paul envisioned weekly therapeutic programs which would provide needed outreach to a number of hospitals and industry organizations and created RISE Adventures in March 2007. Over the years, he has witnessed the vast transformation of wheelchair sports and equipment available in the past into the sophisticated adaptive devices available today. After building RISE Adventures, he turned the organization over to the Executive Board of Directors and its elected officers in December of 2007.
Bill Wyland, Board Treasurer, received his Bachelor’s degree and Master’s degree in Accounting from the University of Alabama. Bill has lived in Texas since 1982. He worked for an oil company for four years and a major bank in the trust operations area for 16 years. Bill lost his left leg in 2005 due to an infection and complications from diabetes. He discovered RISE Adventures in early 2009 and enjoys participating in hand-cycling and water sports. Bill wants to continue to be an advocate for the disability community and will continue to help RISE develop, promote, and implement programs that will have a direct impact on participants getting to share in the same opportunities of which he has benefited.
Rick Brauer attended the University of Texas at Austin where he participated in many wheelchair sports. He left college to pursue a career with Xerox that spanned 20 years. Currently, Rick is employed full time with Pepsi Business Solutions Group based in Plano, TX. There he is a member of EnAble, a group within PepsiCo that is dedicated to creating a more inclusive environment for people with different abilities. In 1977 Rick was in an auto accident which caused a complete paralysis at T12. He refers to this as the beginning of his second life. He took up SCUBA diving, fishing, martial arts, and even historical recreation for fun. By assisting RISE Adventures, he feels he can share his life experience with others, hoping to show that anyone can achieve their dreams when they try. “Life is for living, so experience it.”
Linda Lauchner, is an Executive Assistant with NexBank Capital, Inc. She brings over 20 years of fundraising, event planning and volunteering for non-profit organizations to RISE Adventures. RISE holds a special place in Linda’s heart. She has a son with Cerebral Palsy who would not know the thrill of water skiing, bouncing on the water in a tube or the crashing of rugby chairs and many other sport activities were it not for RISE. Linda’s philosophy is to give back and there is no greater joy to her than making a difference in the life of others. Her favorite quote is one by Margaret Mead, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
Scott Golem received his degree in Multimedia/Graphic Design from the University of North Texas. It was during this time he met his wife Lisa, who has a spinal cord injury. Lisa was an advocate, volunteer, and licensed professional counselor who worked in the healthcare profession. During their 15 years of marriage, Scott gained a wealth of knowledge in the use of adaptive technologies; not only those used for work and activities of daily living, but also those used to have fun, including photography. Scott and Lisa worked with an engineering friend who built a wheelchair monopod so they could share their passion for taking photos. Scott is currently a full-time graphic design instructor at the Art Institute of Fort Worth.
Alli LaCombe has her Associate’s Degree in Psychology and served in the United States Army for over 20 years. Alli’s injury occurred while serving her 2nd tour of duty in Afghanistan, leaving her as an incomplete quadriplegic. She also has Lupus, which attacks the central nervous system and has caused a tumor to develop on her spinal cord. Alli was very discouraged after becoming a wheelchair user, but a friend introduced her to RISE. Since that time, she says she has done things she would never have tried as an able-bodied person. Alli is currently involved with the Paralyzed Veterans Honor Guard. She quotes “RISE shows us that just because we have a disability, we can still do the same things an able-bodied person can do.”
Rob Ritter earned his Bachelors of Science from Texas A&M University and his MBA from Arizona State University. He works for Intuitive Surgical where he supports the Services Business Unit. He was involved in a motor vehicle accident in 2008 that resulted in a burst fracture of his T-4 vertebrae causing complete paralysis from the chest down. Rob has been involved with RISE since 2011 when he fell in love with the water sports program and hand-cycling. He is a triathlete and has proven he can overcome any challenge. Rob believes that therapeutic recreation changed his life for the better and is committed to help others lead rich fulfilling lives.