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Christine B. Stopka earned her PhD from the University of Virginia. She began her career at the University of Florida in August, 1982 and earned tenure and promotion to Associate Professor in 1986. She earned the rank of Full Professor in 2002. During her years at UF, she established undergraduate and graduate specializations in Athletic Training and Special Physical Education, the Student Injury Care Center, the Exercise Therapy Lab, the Adapted Aquatics Program, and community-based programs in athletic training and adapted physical activity. Her writings and research include the study of exercise therapy programs and sports medicine considerations for people with disabilities, including those with intellectual disabilities, peripheral arterial disease, as well as adapted equipment ideas to facilitate inclusive teaching.
In 2007, she received the William A. Hillman Distinguished Service Award from NCPERID, and the Athletic Training Service Award from the National Athletic Trainers’ Association. In 2008, she received the Charles S. Williams Distinguished Service Award from the College of Health and Human Performance, the John K. Williams Adapted Aquatics Award from the International Swimming Hall of Fame, and the university-wide University of Florida Teacher of the Year Award. Since 2007, she has been teaching medical terminology, exercise therapy, adapted physical activity, and community health; and earned three departmental teaching awards. She served as Graduate Coordinator of the Department of Health Education & Behavior from June 2014 through May 2016 (when she retired).
Cathi Brown, MOT, OTR/L, Director of Therapy and Adaptive Programs
Cathi Brown is a native Floridian who describes herself as having “an ongoing love affair with horses.” Her first spoken word was “horse”. While obtaining a Master of Exercise and Sport Science with a specialty in Adapted Physical Education and undergraduate courses in Animal Science with a Equine Specialty, Cathi discovered the wonders of equine-assisted therapy. Seeing firsthand how these wonderful and magical animals, the horse of course, form partnerships with the entire team and help all individuals reach their therapy goals inspired Cathi to continue her education; graduating from the University of Florida with a Master of Occupational Therapy. Cathi was able to then fulfill her dream of combining her profession and her passion. Since that time Cathi has been providing equine-assisted therapy and activities at HOPE HOrses helping PEople.
Cathi is a nationally registered and state certified Occupational Therapist, is a Registered Therapeutic Riding Instructor through Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship, Intl., and is a registered therapist with the American Hippotherapy Association. Cathi has extensive experience working with children and adults with physical, developmental and mental health disabilities. She also has training in Sensory Integration, Ocular Motor Skills, Bilateral Integration and CranialSacral Therapy. Cathi is a co-founder of HOPE, serves on the Board of Directors and is HOPE’s volunteer Director of Therapy and Adaptive Programs. Cathi’s desire to help others and a long time love of horses continues to fuel her commitment to HOPE to provide high quality services and excellence in programming and have a lot of fun and laughter!
Originally from Hudson, Florida, James is a graduate of the University of Florida and has lived in Gainesville for more than a decade. James began volunteering when he was thirteen years old and spent many years involved with Habitat for Humanity. James originally became a volunteer for HOPE because he was interested in learning about horses. After learning more about HOPE’s mission and its impact in the community, James decided to accept administrative duties in order to help expand the organization so that HOPE can reach more people in need of therapeutic riding services. James accepted a position on the board on the Board of Directors in February of 2017 and was elected Board Chairman in August of 2017.