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Patricia Neal Innovative Recreation Cooperative (IRC)

Meet the challenge. Use your potential. Re-create your life. 

We believe:

  • Play is an instrumental and fundamental need of all people. Everyone works to be able to play. Play behaviors are what structure work behaviors.
  • The tangential  effects of recreation promote and provide health and wellness. Leisure has no barriers. 
  • It is the right of all to participate in leisure. What each person makes of it is reflective of each person’s individuality.

The Patricia Neal Innovative Recreation Cooperative (IRC) reflects its name in its philosophy. Innovation is new and creative ways in which individuals with a disability are able to participate. Recreation is the medium that is used to enhance education and awareness of the participants. Cooperative is the group of individuals who support, nurture, and mentor using their expertise and talents to make the clinic a success. Together, each clinic is an innovative form of recreation using a cooperative of talents.

The Goal is to remove all the barriers to develop each individual’s right to self-directed leisure for a healthier lifestyle.


The Patricia Neal Innovative Recreation Cooperative (IRC) was created in 1994 to meet the needs of individuals who have suffered a life changing illness or injury in East Tennessee. The program was designed to be a part of the continuum of care in the rehabilitation process. The scope of the program is to host clinics under an umbrella of education and awareness: Education to teach leisure skills to enhance quality of life in a safe environment and Awareness to heighten the understanding of disabilities to the community. In its existence, the IRC has seen over 15,000 participants and volunteers.

Developing a community of support and understanding through a recreational experience.


  • First Adaptive Water Skiing Program in Tennessee – June 1994
  • First Adaptive Golf Clinic in East Tennessee – September 1995
  • Initiated the development of 3 sister water ski programs in the region – Chattanooga (1994), Corbin KY(1996), Nashville (1997)
  • First Adaptive Scuba Diving Clinic in Tennessee (March 1996)
  • First Mono-ski In-services to Ober Gatlinburg Ski Patrol (Oct 1997)
  • First Adaptive Parasailing Program in Tennessee (August 1998)
  • First Marksmanship Program (April 2004)
  • Exposure to over 1 million in the region for awareness
  • Media support from Knoxville TV Stations 6, 8, 10, 43, & 20, plus
    Media support from WIVK, Eagle, West 105, The River 100.3…, Knoxville News Sentinel and surrounding papers.


The disability groups primarily serviced by the IRC include brain and spinal injury, stroke, and orthopedic injuries including amputees as well as neurological impairments. The IRC hosts clinics in water skiing, snow skiing, paddling, cycling, climbing, marksmanship, and golf on a regular basis. Specialty clinics are hosted depending on interest and have included road racing, tennis, sled hockey, hunting, fishing, self-defense, and camping. It is not the intent of the IRC to be a recreation program as it is to promote education and awareness through recreation activities. The IRC is a resource center for contacts to recreation within venues in the community. If you are seeking an activity and do not have a resource, contact the IRC and we will try to assist you with resource information.

A schedule of events is posted on the web. Registration to events is done directly through the Recreation Therapy office at 865-331-1353. Seasonally, a schedule of events is posted. If you are interested in participating in an event, policy is first come first serve with reservations taken at least two weeks prior to an event. There are limited numbers in most events to provide a safe environment. If you would to be added to the IRC email list, contact Al Kaye at

Donations and Gifts

The Patricia Neal IRC Program is an affiliate of the Patricia Neal Rehabilitation Center at Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center, a not-for-profit 501c3 organization. Contributions to the IRC are tax deductible. The IRC is supported by contributions, fundraising, and grants. All proceeds go directly to the operations of the program to include equipment, repairs, special instructors, and associated fees to conduct clinics. Labor force is primarily through volunteers from the community. Recreation Therapy Services of Patricia Neal Rehabilitation Center coordinates the IRC programs. Major sponsors of the Patricia Neal IRC include the Eskimo Escapades Foundation, Ft. Sanders Foundation, University of Tennessee – Knoxville, Skiers of Knoxville, INC, Knoxville, Knox Co., and Lenoir City Parks & Recreation, Dead Horse Lake Golf Course, Catalyst Sports, Hanger Clinics, CarrRehab, INC.,Varety Foundation of East Tennessee, Pilot International of Lenoir City, Disabled Sports USE, SPARC and the Newman’s Own Foundation.