About the Sabrina Cohen Foundation
Exercise is an activity many people enjoy to strengthen bodies and calm minds. It is especially beneficial for those living with catastrophic illness, injury and secondary health conditions related to long-term disabilities. In many communities, however, gyms and leisure centers are “no-go zones” for the disabled because these facilities often lack ramps, lifts and automatic doors, making them difficult to navigate. High membership fees, inaccessible locker rooms, no specialized equipment and inexperienced staff members are some of the common barriers that can prevent disabled people from participating.
Since 2013, SCF has been working with the City of Miami Beach to develop more inclusive outdoor spaces. On July 23, 2014 the City Commission voted unanimously to approve SCF’s plan to create a fully accessible beach and adaptive playground for kids with special needs on Collins Avenue. To best compliment these outdoor activities, the development of an adaptive recreation center will provide a “go-to” destination offering beach access to participants, with full-time specialized staff, a dedicated place to store all personal belongings (wheelchairs), plus adaptive beach equipment, shelter from rainy days and an indoor first aid station.
SCF will play a leading role in the day-to-day management of the center and fundraising initiatives – partnering with veteran associations and various disability related organizations.
From 2006 to 2012, SCF focused on raising funds to support scientists advancing the field of Regenerative Medicine. SCF donated research grants to the University of California, Irvine, where studies of restoring mobility in paralyzed rats and research on spinal cord injuries yielded the world’s first-ever FDA approved embryonic stem cell treatment to be tested in humans; to Dr. Joshua Hare, Cardiologist and Director of the University of Miami Interdisciplinary Stem Cell Institute, where he is currently using adult stem cells in clinical trials treat heart disease; and to Dr. Sally Temple, co-Founder and Scientific Director of the New York Neural Stem Cell Institute, to support their Optic Nerve Injury Program.
As the spokesperson of SCF and the cause, Sabrina traveled all over the country to educate the public about the importance of moving this science forward.
With the development of the Adaptive Recreation Center, the Sabrina Cohen Foundation will continue to defy odds, push limits and inspire others to reach their full potential.
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Sabrina is the voice and face of the Foundation. A C5 quadriplegic, as the result of a spinal cord injury from a car accident in 1992, she has been a health advocate for research and rehabilitation since 2004. Sabrina established the Sabrina Cohen Foundation in 2006 to raise funds for research and eventually expanded her mission to include quality of life fitness initiatives for the disabled community.
Sabrina Cohen is the Founder / President of the Sabrina Cohen Foundation. Born and raised in Miami Beach, Florida, Sabrina endured a severe C3-5 spinal cord injury in 1992 at the age of 14 from a car accident. In an instant, Sabrina’s life changed when she hopped into the backseat of a car with some friends. The teenage driver started drag racing, lost control and the car slammed into a tree. The car was demolished and Sabrina’s spine was left damaged.
In the early days, despite the daily challenges and confusion, Sabrina continued on with life. She graduated high school on time with the rest of her class and visited schools to talk about her new life with paralysis, urging and inspiring young students to drive carefully. In 1999, Sabrina graduated from the University of Miami with a degree in Communications, double majoring in Advertising and Psychology and also holds a post-graduate degree in Copywriting from the Miami Ad School.
In April 2004, Sabrina discovered the world of stem cell research through Bernard Siegel, the founder of the Genetics Policy Institute (GPI), a leading nonprofit organization dedicated to establishing a legal framework to advance regenerative medicins. She soon became the Director of Public Relations for GPI, traveling nationwide with the organization to attend educational and scientific conferences, including the World Stem Cell Summit at the University of Wisconsin, Harvard University, Stanford University, Baylor College of Medicine at the University of Texas, University of Michigan and at the United Nations.
In 2006, the Sabrina Cohen Foundation (SCF) was established to educate the public about the cause and raise funds for research. In 2012, SCF introduced quality of life initiatives focused on adaptive fitness and recreation programs to its mission. Today, the Sabrina Cohen Foundation is running a campaign to build our nation’s first of a kind Adaptive Recreation Center to provide year-round beach access and fitness programs to the disabled community, designed by Kobi Karp Architects in partnership with the City of Miami Beach.
Sabrina’s media coverage as the Foundation’s spokesperson advocating extensively for research and quality of life health initiatives includes interviews with CNN, NBC, FOX, CBS, ABC, CNN Headline News, Good Morning America, Deco Drive, NPR, Jim Defede Show, WebMD Magazine (nominated a 2009 American Health Hero), The Miami Herald, Ocean Drive Magazine, Self Magazine, Sun-Sentinel and the Wall Street Journal. She has been linked to many political figures, including fellow stem cell advocate Michael J. Fox as well.
As a Professional Life Coach, Motivational Speaker and Disability / Healthy Lifestyle Advocate, Sabrina continuously enjoys taking the time to talk one-on-one with individuals, businesses, community groups, and students at schools and universities. In 2016, Sabrina got her Real Estate license and joined Coldwell Banker Residential to assist clients with special accommodations and accessibility needs. She created Sabrina Cohen Living to further develop the need for more inclusive living spaces and building more inclusive communities by drawing attention to this important niche market.
A seasoned leader and consultant with global experience, Jasper is the founder and owner of the Nelissen Consulting Group (NCG), a Miami-based consulting practice that focuses on the intersection of brand strategy, transformation and organizational development. Jasper has worked with companies of all sizes – from multinationals to local start-ups – and across multiple industries, including FMCG, Insurance, Finance, Retail, Tourism, Creative Services, Real Estate & Architecture, and Media & Content.
Before founding NCG, Jasper implemented purpose driven programs for organizational, leadership and people development as a change leader and Account Director at global advertising network Saatchi & Saatchi, and was the General Manager and agency leader at advertising agency Conill Saatchi & Saatchi Miami. Under his leadership, the agency generated best in class creative solutions for clients, earning multiple industry awards.
Jasper has an MBA from Cambridge University with a focus on Brand Strategy and Change, an MSC from Delft University of Technology, and is an Adjunct Professor at the University of Miami, teaching courses in Advertising Strategy Development.
With a strong passion for the fitness and wellness industry, Aryan is the co owner of JetSet Pilates also known as JetSet Miami. Aryan’s clients range from beginners to professional athletes and celebrities. JetSet fuses principles of Pilates, balance, flexibility, strength, core, circuit, and strength training.
Aryan created her own JetSet adaptive fitness program currently taught at Jackson Memorial Hospital and the Miami VA and is looking forward to working with Sabrina Cohen Foundation to continue to implement training for paralysis community and beyond. Aryan is also an attorney, barred in Florida and Washington DC, received her Master’s from Stanford University, earned her BA from UC Berkeley, worked at the Women and Public Policy Program at Harvard University, has been a featured expert on various fitness and wellness forums, and currently serves as an ambassador for Lululemon South Miami.
Angel Pardo is the President of Doctors Medical Rentals, DMR Corporation, an Assistive Technology provider specializing in meeting the needs of clients ranging from Neo-Natal to Bariatric, with experience caring for those with ALS, Cerebral Palsy, Muscular Dystrophy and Spinal Cord Injury. DMR’s state-of-the-art facility is located in South Florida, with an evaluation area and full diagnostic capabilities for repair with a large inventory of parts – all of which is fully accessible
Bernard Siegel, J.D., is the founder and Executive Director of Genetics Policy Institute (GPI), a nonprofit organization with offices in Palm Beach, Florida; Silicon Valley, California and Washington, D.C. He founded and co-chairs the annual World Stem Cell Summit, founded and serves editor-in-chief of the peer-reviewed World Stem Cell Report and is the editor of the 360 Stem Cell & Regenerative Medicine weekly newsletter. He founded and is the spokesperson for the Stem Cell Action Coalition, a 100+ member international alliance of nonprofits and research institutions leading the global “Pro-Cures Movement.”
Medical writer/ author at Newsmax Health. Charlotte Libov has written about medical and health care topics for more than 15 years. Since becoming a health book author in 1993, she has written or co-written five books, including The Woman’s Heart Book, which was adapted by PBS for a documentary, and received a book award from the American Medical Writers Association. Before becoming a medical author and freelancer, she was a New York Times contributor and has written health articles for Ladies’ Home Journal, Neurology Now, and Arthritis Today. She is also a professional speaker on women’s health issues and has appeared on radio and television health shows. Libov has a bachelor’s degree with honors from the University of Connecticut and a master’s degree in mental health counseling from the University of Oregon.
Stacey Glassman Mizener
As Executive Director of the Sabrina Cohen Foundation, Stacey Glassman Mizener is at the helm of the organization’s leadership during an exciting time of growth and the launch of a capital campaign. Stacey has witnessed Sabrina’s heroic strength and vision and is motivated to support her dream of building a more inclusive community for individuals living with disabilities.
The Sabrina Cohen Foundation is currently developing an iconic world-class center that will serve as a model for how to treat citizens with disabilities and help to improve their lives. In partnership with the City of Miami Beach, the SCF is creating a first of its kind, state-of-the-art Adaptive Fitness and Recreation Center with a fully accessible beach. This Center will offer physical fitness programs, a robotics and technology center along with daily activities that promote mental and spiritual wellness. Services will be offered daily to children, veterans, the elderly and the community at large, along with the roughly 29 percent of Miami-Dade residents that are living with some type of disability. The building was designed by renowned Architect Kobi Karp, and Architectural Digest awarded it the honor of “Best Pro-Bono project of 2019.”
As the Executive Director, Stacey will focus on managing all aspects of this $10.5 Million Capital Campaign and raising the funds necessary to bring this important project to reality. Stacey will aim to build a diverse and inclusive community of supporters, help facilitate a better understanding of the everyday challenges and solutions of people living with disabilities and expand the current programs to be able to serve more people. Once this campaign is achieved, the SCF will expand this platform nationwide and continue advocating for these human rights.
For more than 20 years, Stacey has dedicated her career to helping elevate the artistic and cultural fabric of Miami. She served as the Vice President of the National YoungArts Foundation from 2017-2020 and helped to empower artists to pursue a life in the arts. Beforehand, Stacey worked as the Vice President of Faena Art, a non profit organization that houses and produces post-disciplinary and time-based creative experiences. Prior to joining Faena Art, she conceptualized and founded Metro 1 Community, a corporate social responsibility platform to further Metro 1’s commitment to improving the communities it serves through educational, cultural and environmental initiatives.
From 2003 to 2013, Stacey served as Associate Vice President of Development for New World Symphony in Miami Beach, where she founded Friends of New World Symphony. An innovative membership program with more than 1,000 patrons, her strategy successfully sought out and engaged Miami’s next generation of arts patrons with classical music. She also played an active fundraising role in the launch of the $200 million capital campaign to build the Frank Gehry-designed New World Center through corporate, individual and event fundraising; and recruited and managed the Friends Executive Committee and National Council in Miami and New York, comprising 60 of the most outstanding philanthropists, influencers, business leaders, publicists and journalists.
Walter D. Javier
Since 1994, Walter has been a Lifeguard and Training Instructor for Miami Dade Ocean Rescue. From 2000 to 2003 he was a Firefighter for the Hialeah Fire Department and Rescue. Since 2003, Walter has competed in most regional, state and international ocean rescue competitions, consistently placing 1,2 or 3. He was part of junior lifeguard program and was in charge of training new ocean rescue recruits, has traveled the world in the roughest oceans surfing and skin diving for over 20 years, cross trains Firefighters regularly in ocean rescue skills and techniques and works with special needs kids for summer surf camp.
Cathy Garcia Herring
Cathy has been a Recreation therapist for 33 years, working at Jackson Memorial Hospital (JMH) for 24 years, with Dade parks & recreation, Sunrise Community residential group homes with the developmental population, and for Dade county adult daycare (for a total of 9 years). In 2013, she was a winner of the Florida hospital Association with a “Caregiver of the Year” award, and in 2012, the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce announced her a winner of the “Health care Hero” award. In July 2013, JMH gave her an achievement award.
Carla graduated from Florida International University in 1987 with a Bachelor of Science in Physical Therapy. She has been at Miami Physical Therapy Associates since 1994. She is a current member of the American Physical Therapy Association and a member of the Neurology and Orthopedic Sections. Carla has an expertise in the areas of evaluation and treatment of various neurological conditions including spinal cord injury, geriatric populations and orthopedic spine for both pre- and post-op rehabilitation. She has a variety of techniques including trunk/core stabilization, proprioceptive neurofaciliation techniques, Kinesio Taping Methods, balance re-education and body weight supported ambulation in her training. She also provides osteoporosis education and postural training exercises based on the Sara Meeks Method. She is an expert in seating evaluations and makes appropriate wheelchair and seating recommendations. Carla plays an active role in clinical education. She is the Center Coordinator of Clinical Education.
Devon is a leading authority on Adaptive Fitness for those living with or recovering from a disability. With over 15 years of experience in both fitness and rehab, He is the go to resource for clients, therapists, and doctors looking to maximize the benefits of Adaptive exercise to improve strength, balance, function and abilities.
He has worked with and helped to maximize independence and function for individuals following or in addition to traditional therapy who are recovering from Stroke, Spinal cord injury, and other neurological conditions, Amputation, Vision impaired, and Seniors.Devon also regularly coaches individuals looking to lose weight, improve their body composition, increase strength, and improve for sport.
He has worked as a strength and conditioning trainer for the DC Wheelchair Quad Rugby Team the Capital Punishers in their first two years as a division 1 team in 2016 when they went 6th overall and 2017 when they went 3rd overall in the nation! Devon regularly presents on adaptive fitness to local area hospitals, support groups, Walk n rolls, and expo’s.