Creating a world where everyone is .

Let's Get Together

Exercise, arts, hang-outs—HUG’s community calendars include tons of fun events and activities from more than 80 local organizations. Click below to see local programs specifically designed for children, teens and adults with special needs.




Let's Be Friends

We want you to hang out with us. Check out the awesome, HUG-hosted events below.

HUG is actively searching for 4 unique people with disabilities for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity…
Could it be you?

Learn MoreNominate

Accessible Beaches

We all deserve a fun, relaxing day at the beach.
Sadly, getting onto a sandy beach is either incredibly difficult or simply impossible for many individuals with mobility challenges. At HUG, we believe having a disability should never prevent a person from enjoying equal access to our natural resources. That’s why we are on a mission to ensure our beautiful beaches are safe, easy to find, and accessible for all.
Click the button below to find a list of the best beaches in Southwest Florida that offer wheelchair access, mobility mats, handicap-accessible parking, and other amenities to ensure your next day at the beach can be enjoyed by everyone in the family.

Find Accessible Beaches

Let's Connect

Join the HUG crew on social media.

    Meet the HUG Entrepreneurs

    HUG is passionate about helping our talented friends with disabilities succeed. Check out how these brave and inspiring pursuits of happiness are breaking barriers for social inclusion. 

    Ethan Holt

    Even though 1 in 4 U.S. adults lives with a disability, mainstream advertising campaigns rarely include people with special needs.
    In 2019, Ethan Holt, a young man with Down syndrome, attended a photoshoot hosted by Help Us Gather (HUG). Ethan stunned the HUG team with his good looks and natural talent for modeling.
    When local talent agencies turned down the opportunity to work with Ethan, the HUG reached out to dozens of brands and companies directly, working tirelessly to get Ethan that first “yes”.
    Ethan landed a job as Surf Style’s first model with a disability in 2019 and the story went viral, reaching millions of people across the globe. Since then, Ethan has modeled in various print and online campaigns, been featured in regional and national TV commercials, and continued making waves around the country as his professional modeling career grows to new heights.
    Ethan’s success is proof: People want advertising that reflects their reality, and savvy companies large and small are realizing the value of true diversity. In fact, HUG’s effort to feature people with disabilities in advertising was recognized as the #1 brand humanity trend by Biz Community in 2020.

    Mark Fleming

    Mark was determined to be the first personal trainer with autism to own and operate a fitness studio. He just needed a little help getting the word out. That’s where HUG came in.

    Maxine Simeone

    Making fab glam jewelry was her passion—why not turn it into a profitable business? HUG rolled up our sleeves to help our friend with Down syndrome build Sparkles by Maxine from the ground up.

    Introducing “We Include”

    You asked, HUG answered!
    Our successes with HUG showed us we needed to make a bigger corner of the world that embraced people with disabilities—way bigger.
    That’s why HUG created We Include, a national advocacy platform that aims to create a more inclusive world for people with disabilities.

    We Include is HUG’s national platform for inclusion born out of our local success.
    This new site is full of research that’s on the cutting-edge of inclusion. You’ll find impactful interviews with celebrities, politicians, entrepreneurs, and disability influencers. And, we have curated simple and effective strategies for schools, businesses and society to include people with disabilities in every facet of life.
    We Include is a bold, empowering, and inspiring voice – and we know it’s exactly what the world needs to hear as we make a more inclusive world together.

    Join Us

    Virtual Reality

    Reality schmeality. HUG’s gone virtual with an Oculus virtual reality gaming system and a library of 60+ games specifically geared towards people with disabilities. Swim with dolphins. Climb Mt. Everest. Or just lose yourself in a VR experience without moving a muscle.

    Learn More

    HUG’s “How Do You Include?” Campaign

    Everybody loves our HUG Ambassadors. You will, too, in this public education campaign we launched starring our inclusion champions. They’ll walk you through a first-person perspective on the beauty of inclusion and how simple it is to build a better world.

    More Videos

    What They're Saying About HUG

    HUG is a great organization for people with special needs to find various activities in the community. I am so grateful to find HUG because I just moved to Clearwater, Florida and I needed to make friends my own age. Now, I have lots of friends and I have a full calendar filled with fun activities.

    Neetha ErukullaHUG Ambassador, Volunteer

    As a child and now a young adult, I struggled with social interaction. Even now it is so nice to connect with others that share the same challenges. The website is an amazing opportunity for people of all ages with disabilities to help people with social skills and to connect with one another.

    Rachel BarcellonaMiss Manatee River 2019, Board Member CARD-USF, Ambassador Unicorn Children’s Foundation

    We are so excited to have the Help Us Gather website to share our programs and help in providing information to group homes, Adult Day Training programs, parents, companions and others who work with or love the developmentally disabled.

    Horton TownesDirector, St. Paul Handicapable Ministry

    This website is a necessity because it allows people with disabilities or the parent of a person with a disability to easily find events in their neighborhood that can bring them together. They have a variety of choices for all ages and I truly think that this website is a positive step in uniting the special needs community.

    Katherine MagnoliMiss Wheelchair Florida 2017, Author and Radio Host

    Before I found HUG, my daughter was becoming depressed because she was lonely. I found the HUG website, and now she has too many things to do! She has so many friends. Her health is better now because she’s happy. It’s just wonderful.

    Rose KingMother of Christine King, HUG Ambassador

    I could not be happier for being involved with such a great organization like HUG. This organization fills a great need for the special needs community in bringing it into the 21st century, which allows for awareness and acceptance to be spread faster than before. This is the reason I am proud to of become an Ambassador for HUG!

    Mark FlemingFounder, Puzzle Piece Fitness was created to connect people with special needs and their families to social events and activities in the community. Feeling disconnected or isolated has a significant impact on a person’s quality of life. HUG’s mission is to help create a more inclusive world for people of all abilities.

    Robin LallyFounder, Help Us Gather

    Featured Stories

    Wanna know what we love at HUG? Creating a more inclusive world by showing off our amazing friends and inspiring people to embrace those of us with disabilities. The good vibes behind HUG are catching on—take a look at these top stories.