Stand Among Friends (SAF) is a 501c3 that is dedicated to helping people with disabilities live life without limits.
SAF was started by Shawn and Lisa Friedkin with the mission of raising funds for neurological research, after a terrible car accident in 1992 left Shawn a paraplegic. In 2006, they realized that the original mission of SAF was not enough. Identifying a huge gap in the services available for people with disabilities, they built The Center for The Study of Neurological Disability (The Disability Center) on the campus of FAU in Boca Raton. From 2006 until 2021, Shawn led a team that developed numerous successful programs and events with a focus on assistive technologies, peer mentoring, employment services, and vocational evaluations. During this time, SAF also hosted disability sensitivity conferences and provided disability sensitivity training to governmental agencies, businesses, and schools statewide. SAF has placed over 500 individuals in employment and over 1,200 people have sought SAF services with more than 50% of them having college degrees.
In 2011, Shawn and Lisa expanded the mission of SAF with the goal of bringing the community together with an all-inclusive race – the emb(race)® race. The emb(race)®, a first of its kind, invited people to participate, regardless of their physical abilities, on an accessible racecourse at FAU. It was an amazing community event that brought together a sea of racers of all ages on foot, with crutches and canes, in wheelchairs and on hand cycles, with guide dogs and support runners assisting people with visual impairments moving through the course together. For many in the community, it was a highlight of the year.
In 2013, Shawn was diagnosed with an incurable form of cancer. While Shawn passed away on March 3, 2021, his legacy lives on through his family and the continued work of SAF.
SAF’s success can only be attributed to Shawn’s vision and relentless pursuit of helping people with disabilities, his supportive family and friends, and the thousands of generous volunteers and donors who continue to support SAF help thousands of people with disabilities live a life without limits.