Volunteering is an Opportunity Not an Obligation


Apr 15, 2016

“I’m too busy to volunteer…”

It’s an all too common thought that Brian Trang has heard expressed by his friends and classmates. And with an already busy schedule as a student in the Doctor of Physical Therapy program at the University of North Florida (UNF), it’s definitely something that he can relate to.

However, despite a busy schedule and little free time, Brian has been volunteering with Brooks Adaptive Sports and Recreation on a weekly basis since late 2014. He doesn’t see itas a sacrifice of time, but as an opportunity to have fun surrounded by amazing people.


Brooks Rehab Adaptive Sports Volunteering Brian TrangWhen Brian moved to Jacksonville two years ago from Tampa, he hadn’t heard of Brooks or the Adaptive Sports program. When his teachers and fellow students told him about the hospital and its community programs, he wasn’t sure what to expect.

I didn’t think a program like this existed,” said Brian. “It’s amazing how much of a positive impact Brooks has on a person’s quality of life. There are so many opportunities for people who may other wise be sitting at home. There are activities almost every day of the week. We even have a fishing event coming up soon!”

Brian has always enjoyed volunteering, but he sees his involvement with Brooks as something very different. When he was younger, Brian suffered a back injury that left him lying in a bed for a week, wondering if he would ever walk again. After the experience, he decided to pursue a career in physical therapy to help people in situations like his. Volunteering his time to Brooks has given him a deeper understanding for the importance of the work he will be doing.


Brian’s first volunteer experience with Brooks was at an adaptive yoga session two years ago. At the time, his physical therapy class had been studying spasticity in muscles and flexure posture. This was something that he had a hard time understanding because it was difficult to simulate in a classroom setting.

Less than five minutes into the yoga class,Brian was able to work with a participant having spasticity issues. Since then, his time volunteering has given him an invaluable amount of real-world experience, something his peers have not had the opportunity to explore.

What is the most important thing Brian has learned? It wasn’t the technical knowledge. It was insight into the people he was helping.

“It blew my mind how appreciative the people were when I was helping them get into position,” said Brian. “They are truly thankful for the support we are providing. It really brings me back to the reality of what I want out of my career and life.”


The fulfillment Brian experiences is far greater than the act of volunteering. When Brian has a busy or bad day, he looks forward to the next time he can make it to a practice or outing. What may seem like work to others is actually an opportunity to relax and build relationships with people who are looking for friendship as much as they are looking for assistance.

The volunteers, participants and staff that take part in Adaptive Sports are proud of what the program has become. It is not defined by the actions or achievements of any one person, but rather the group as a whole. It is a community.

To find out more about volunteer opportunities with Brooks Adaptive Sports CLICK HERE.


Translate »