Gill Hepple, Professional Dog Trainer, Motorcycle Enthusiast, and Ability1st Volunteer
Gill Hepple became involved with Ability1st while attending the weekly meeting of her motorcycle club. The group was looking for volunteers to help plan Capital City Bikefest, an annual fundraiser to support the programs of Ability1st. Initially, Hepple volunteered to help promote the event using media contacts she made while volunteering with another area nonprofit. Her first step was to visit the Ability1st office. “I thought if I am going to promote the organization, I should know what they do,” she explains. “I stepped into the durable medical equipment storage room and thought ‘I get it.’”
Working to help others live independently is not new to Hepple. Growing up in Yorkshire, England, her family was very involved in raising awareness and funds to improve the quality of life for people living with a disability. “My older brother had a disability. Sadly, he died when he was eighteen. My mum took care of him 24/7 for each of those eighteen years,” she said. “My family continued fundraising many years after his death. Actually, my mum was responsible for opening the first playschool for mentally handicap children in our area.”
As Hepple became involved with Capital City Bikefest, she took on increasing amounts of responsibility and by the fifth year, she officially took over as Chairperson of the event. She dedicates countless hours planning the event including organizing volunteers, soliciting vendors and sponsors, and coordinating efforts with Red Hills Powersports, the top sponsor.
In 2016, Hepple suffered an injury to her knee. She now uses a cane to walk and is unable to continue her work as a dog trainer or drive a car. Assuming she would no longer be able to complete the tasks necessary to chair the committee, she contacted Ability1st Executive Director, Dan Moore, to let him know he needed to find somebody else. “He said let’s wait and see, we are here if you need us,” Hepple explains. “He’s picked me up and given me rides for committee meetings, and the office loaned me an electric wheelchair to get around at Bikefest. They’ve made it easier for me to continue to serve.”
When asked about why she is willing to give so much of her time to the organization, Hepple said, “Ability1st isn’t asking how much money can we raise, they ask how many people can we serve.”
Option #1: Make a financial gift.
We are so grateful for your financial gift! A few examples of how it can be utilized include: the purchase of durable medical equipment such as wheelchairs, walkers and shower benches; medical equipment repairs such as the purchase of a new battery for an electric wheelchair; and disposable incontinence supplies which are medically necessary yet expensive.
Your gift may also be used to help a Big Bend neighbor who has been chronically homeless and placed in housing purchase basic necessities such as toiletries, towels, sheets, pots, pans, and dishes.
Items such as tablets and computers are also prohibitively expensive for many of our Big Bend neighbors living with a disability, but necessary for those enrolled in educational classes or job training.
Online donations are processed through PayPal. You do not need a PayPal account to donate online! Clicking this button will take you to PayPal, where you can choose to pay with any debit or credit card. You are also welcome to mail your gifts to us at the Ability1st office: 1823 Buford Court, Tallahassee, Florida 32308.
Option #2: Donate Supplies
Last fiscal year Ability1st served nearly 600 people with medical equipment loans and disposable medical supplies. That is a minimum of eleven people every weekday walking through our doors with a need. We appreciate gifts of medical equipment, medical supplies such as adult disposable undergarments, bed pads, wipes, and liquid food.
Option #3: Host a Fundraiser
Do you have a special occasion coming up and are looking for a fresh way to celebrate while making a difference in our community? Consider celebrating your birthday, retirement, promotion etc., with a Facebook, Pinterest, or Instagram fundraiser for Ability1st.
Option #4: Volunteer
Last fiscal year, Ability1st utilized 10,000 volunteer hours, the equivalent of five full-time employees, to build ramps, install ramp modules, build half-steps and make repairs. If you and your group (church group, professional department, civic organization, sports team or just a gathering of friends) would like to participate in our mission, please complete and return our volunteer application form. No experience necessary!