The AIROW Project's Mission: We aim to create adaptive & inclusive recreation opportunities for individuals with disabilities.
In 2019, April Katz, owner of Adaptive Life Coaches, was passionate about providing free adaptive events for those with special needs and disabilities in Whatcom. The funds donated to AIROW go towards providing adaptive gear, scholarships, and creating free events for those within Whatcom.
The AIROW Project is a nonprofit organization exempt from federal income tax under section 501 (c) (3) of the IRS code. Charitable gifts are deductible as allowed by this code.
Local nonprofit enters its first adaptive team in Junior Ski to Sea:
April 2023: Creating a Better World for Adaptive Cyclists
Read the article on People for Bikes:
March 2023: Adaptive Recreational Gear for All | The AIROW Project
The Airow Project Proves Riding, Recreation Are for Everyone
April Katz, the founder of the AIROW project, is working to help people with disabilities embrace and enjoy the outdoors.
Hello! My name is April Katz, and I started the AIROW project in 2020. I am interested in helping people reach their health and helping local individuals with disabilities enjoy more access to recreation. I have worked in the lives of children and adults with a wide range of disabilities since 2004. I am a Certified Life Coach. I have worked at ABA therapy clinics as a Certified Behavioral Technician. I have also been an individual respite provider. My goal for the AIROW project programs is to make recreation fun for EVERYONE.
My hobbies include anything active, surfing, being an outdoor enthusiast, and being an avid bike rider.
My name is Ashley Rowles. I originally come from South Dakota but have called Bellingham home for a little over 3 years. I am currently an elementary special education teacher (grades TK-2), and love working with this wonderful community of people! When I am not teaching, I love to spend my time mountain biking, flyfishing, backpacking, skiing, snowshoeing, and pretty much anything that gets me outside (and spending time with the wonderful people of the Airow Project! I met April nearly 3 years ago and have since become great friends who love working together to serve the special needs community of Whatcom County and beyond! It brings me such joy to be able to support/work with these people in building the skills to become successful and independent adults who love to safely and joyfully recreate in the outdoors and their local community!
Jill has lived and worked in Bellingham as a pediatric physical therapist for the past 20 years. She is an avid mountain biker and advocate for accessible outdoor recreation. She works at PeaceHealth Children's Therapy clinic in Bellingham, and she is a certified Ride Leader through Bike Instructor Certification Program.
My name is Ava Larsen. I was born and raised near the Chuckanut mountains in beautiful Bellingham, WA. A couple of things I call myself include: a hiker, water-sports enthusiast, photographer, artist, and volunteer. In 2020, I started my own business, Wildcat Cove Paddle, instructing and guiding paddle boarding in Bellingham, WA. In addition to The Airow Project, I volunteer for North Sound Stewards and am an ambassador for multiple outdoor groups. I am currently pursuing a master's in clinical mental health counseling. I am seeking to explore a future career in adventure therapy due to a keen interest in the human mind and the healing aspects of nature and adventure.
My name is Brooke Friesen. I grew up in Flint, Michigan, where I was deeply connected to a nonprofit called The Disability Network, whose mission is to revolutionize communities to be inclusive and accepting, where all people thrive in the quality of life they create. Entering college, I knew I wanted to focus on creating accessibility to the outdoors for all people and the recreation that happens in the outdoors.
I love recreating in the backcountry; for the day or for long expeditions. Rock climbing, mountain biking, skiing, and kayaking are some of my favorites, but I’ll do anything that gets me outside and connects me to the people around me.
I am a long time Whatcom county implant/resident, meaning I moved here just in time for the big winter of ‘98, pipeline explosion of ‘99 and "lane changing" critical mass bike rides of ‘00. I graduated from WWU/Fairhaven College with Environmental and Place Based Education and have been teaching in some form ever since. I am now a Special Education teacher for Bellingham Public Schools. I am happy to work with AIROW and blend my passion for outdoor play and profession with individualized education. There are no limits to the Joy and Empowerment I see people gain as they learn new ways to be in their body outside and I am thrilled to help make that happen. I’ve raised my kids here and watched Bellingham blossom into this bustling little city of subdued excitement! I am so grateful to be able to hike a glacier in the morning, pick fresh berries by day and paddle with bioluminescence in the bay at night! I share my love for big play and open space with my husband Peter, boys Milo and Noah and side kick dog Tahra.
My name is Alison Fontaine! I’m from the Vancouver, WA area, but have lived in Bellingham for over ten years. I have a Master’s degree in Business Administration and am actively completing a Master’s degree in Public Health. I have worked at PeaceHealth now for two years, and am incredibly passionate about public health awareness, health education, and outdoor activities including gardening, fly-fishing, kayaking, skiing, scuba diving, and hiking. When I’m not outside, I love to travel and have been to over fifty countries. I am so passionate about all that AIROW brings to the incredible PNW community, and so grateful to be part of this amazing group!
My name is Dillen Maurer and I love bikes! After retiring from a career in professional cycling, I decided to use my knowledge to start a custom bicycle fabrication business. I have a masters degree in neuroscience and couldn't have gotten through all that without the fine outdoors community I met climbing, biking and skiing. As a recent amputee, I want to do my part to make sure folks who can't traditionally spend time outdoors have the freedom to do so. Every person deserves to get out and explore the beauty this world has to offer!
Elsa grew up in Bellingham, attended Western Washington University, and after a short stint in Southern California for graduate school she returned to the beautiful PNW. She works as a genetic counselor and when she is not working with patients she is almost always on the water. She races sailboats competitively but loves doing any watersport at any level. She also enjoys biking, hiking, skiing, and going on adventures with her dog.
As a genetic counselor, Elsa often works with families with disabilities, and a significant part of her job involves being an advocate for folks who have been historically and systemically excluded from receiving equitable healthcare. She strives to use her advocacy skills as part of the AIROW team to help everyone in our community gain access to and enjoy outdoor activities.
Prior to working in healthcare, Elsa worked in the recreation industry as director of a youth sailing program and as a sailing coach and instructor.
My name is Gina Bozzo. I moved back to Bellingham in 2021 after graduate school at Eastern Washington University. Since then, I have been working as an early intervention Occupational Therapist, supporting infants, toddlers, and their families in doing the things they need and want to do. I am a native of Whatcom County and have been working in adaptive recreation for many years. As a certified therapeutic riding instructor, I worked in various roles at multiple nonprofits across the country and on the Hawaiian Islands. When I am not working you can find me and my dog chasing waterfalls and big trees. In both my professional and personal life I am passionate about health equity, access to natural spaces, community building, and of course hiking, biking, and climbing. I am so excited to be working with the AIROW project, combining passions and profession, to expand access to accessible recreation for ALL residents of Whatcom County!
Hi, my name is Julie Meyers. Originally from New York State, I moved to Southern California with my family at age 17. After making my way up the West Coast for school and work, I landed in Bellingham in 2011. I began my career as a clinical dietitian and explored a few different paths before finding my niche as the director of Meals on Wheels and More, the local Senior Nutrition Program. An avid mountain biker, in 2022 I began volunteering as a ride leader for the WMBC Joy Riders, the group that welcomed me into the sport several years ago. I love sharing my joy of riding trails with others and helping introduce them to the sport in a supportive and non-intimidating way. When not riding or working, I enjoy reading, spending time with friends, and trying to keep up with my 3 year-old lab mix, Roxy.
Katie Wood is an Occupational Therapist with 20 years of experience, working with clients across the lifespan. She currently works as a full-time OT for the Bellingham School District and is a member of the school district’s Inclusionary Practices Committee. Katie is working on completing her ADA Coordinator Certification. Creating inclusive experiencing and increasing access to activities that have not been an option before, is something Katie is very passionate about.
When she is not being a fierce advocate for the students and families she serves, Katie loves spending time with her husband, two daughters and two dogs. She enjoys playing golf, volleyball and going to sports events with her family and friends. In the summers, Katie and her therapy dog Sully volunteer their time visiting care facilities and support events.