Inclusion Matters


Lives of Distinction

John Lidster

One Man's Passion

Actress and singer Sabrina Ryan was on to something when she said, “You can do anything as long as you have the passion, the drive, and the support.” A fine illustration of this quote is John Lidster of Weedsport, NY, whose deep passion for the game of golf has helped him both on and off the course.

To say that John enjoys playing golf would be an understatement. “I’d play every single day, if I could,” he told us with a big smile, not even half-kidding. Whether it’s the fresh air and exercise, the challenge of the game itself, the comradery it brings, or the sense of achievement he feels after each successive hole, nothing quite compares to golf for John.

“His game has improved quite a bit since we’ve been working together,” said his Mentor of three years through Advocates, Mike White. “Mike is a good worker and coaches me through things on the course,” John said, acknowledging the value Mike brings to his rounds. The benefit of having a Mentor like Mike by his side goes well beyond an improved putting stroke or even a lower score, however. With his years of professional experience, a genuine concern for John’s welfare and progression in life, and a nifty golf game of his own, Mike has made it his duty to help apply some of the game’s principles to John’s life.

“I indirectly use this passion of his as a teaching mechanism for bigger things,” Mike said. “There are so many good parallels between golf and life, such as the need to take things slowly, maintain composure, focus on the goal ahead, and that improvement takes work.” To this end, Mike helps John to minimize the challenges and avoid the obstacles that are known to present themselves due to his disability. Routine exercise on the golf course and weekly physical therapy sessions help John’s balance and coordination – things that have been problematic for him over the years. Though his steadiness on his feet is a work in progress, John is very quick on his toes. “My biggest challenge in life is avoiding the water on the golf course!” he exclaimed. “John is faster than flash, and with that, his awareness is lacking,” Mike added. “The key for him is to slow down and take things easy, not just on the golf course but everywhere.”

John channels his same exuberance for golf when he is giving back to his community. Each week, he volunteers his time at Meals at Wheels of Cayuga County, where he bags, organizes, and delivers meals to seniors in his area. “I like helping people,” he said with the same smile that hadn’t left his face all afternoon. “My favorite part is delivering to people.”

“He enjoys helping people and is so friendly,” Mike added. “It’s amazing that everywhere we go, it’s like he knows everyone, and they all make a point to stop and say ‘hello.’” John said that it’s a good feeling, having so many acquaintances in the community. However, perhaps his most meaningful daily interactions take place with his mother, Linda, with whom he shares a very special bond. “We talk on the phone every day and I visit her on the weekends,” John said. “I’m proud that she’s my mother because she is always helping me.” He then credited Advocates for playing another critical role in his life. “Advocates helps me in other ways and lets me participate in the things I want to do.” John’s Coordinator of four years through Advocates, Alexas Yorio, echoed his feelings.

“He has grown so much over the last couple of years,” she said. “Now, it’s more than just getting out into the community…he’s learned from his Mentors and has learned to advocate for himself.” Alexas added what a joy it’s been to see John’s relationship with Mike evolve over the years. “It’s been great to watch,” she said. “They work amazingly well together, and we’re all glad to have found such a good match.” Mike agreed with Alexas’ statements, but added that, just like any relationship, it takes work.

“He requires lots of reinforcement and continued guidance in certain areas,” Mike said. “But it’s helped me learn to be more patient and to try to see things through another person’s eyes. I now find myself asking How does he see this shot? How does he see life? Through our relationship and my mentorship, I’ve gained an even greater appreciation for work in this field.”

When John isn’t spending time at home or giving back to his community, he enjoys playing pool, horseback riding, visiting the zoo, eating at his favorite restaurants, attending various Syracuse University sporting events, and – you guessed it – playing golf. “They bless him here,” Mike stated, alluding to John’s favorite golf course, Meadowbrook in Weedsport. “His mother is a member here, and because of that and John’s friendly personality, they don’t even charge him to play here.” John’s friends at the golf course enjoy his being there just as much as he does. “John is always smiling and polite, and we love having him around,” said the course owner’s daughter, Sydney. 

So, the next time you hear a celebratory cheer from a green at your local golf course, it may be John, who has just hit his next magnificent shot. And, the next time you drive past any area golf course, we hope you’ll think of John, his pursuit of life’s passions, and the strides he’s taken with the guidance of his team at Advocates. 

“John is the Weedsport community,” Mike said. “He thrives on being in the community, and I’m proud to help him be a part of it in some small way.” Advocates is proud of John, his accomplishments, and the dedication of his support team, including Mike and Alexas. We thank them for their contributions to John’s success, and send a special thanks to Meadowbrook Golf Course, which helps to fulfill John’s love for the game.

Check out John's putting skills!

If you have a caring family member or friend who is looking for meaningful work and the opportunity to support someone as inspirational as John, please encourage them to apply on our website. We look forward to meeting them!

Upcoming Events

Advocates 18th Annual

Charity Golf Tournament

Our tournament has a new venue for 2023!

Advocates' 18th Annual Charity Golf Tournament is right around the corner, and you can participate in a number of ways to support this great cause!

On Wednesday, September 20th, Advocates will host its classic tournament at Timber Banks Golf Club in Baldwinsville. Featuring a Jack Nicklaus Design course, Timber Banks Golf Club offers immaculate grounds and a challenging layout that will keep our golfers engaged from their first tee to their last. Golfers will be treated to 18 holes of golf, cart, electronic scoring, new contests, lunch, beverages on the course, cocktail reception, hostess gift, swag, auction that includes several safaris, and a sit-down gourmet dinner overlooking the breathtaking grounds.

Not a golfer or can't make it that day? Sponsorship and donation packages are still available. These are great opportunities to promote your business while supporting Advocates in the process, as all proceeds from our tournament will benefit children with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

We hope you'll join the fun of this wonderful event!

Click here for more information or to register

Dine For Dollar$

Our next Dine for Dollar$ fundraiser to benefit the people we support is next week! We welcome families, employees, and friends to join us on Wednesday, August 16th to King David's, located at 317 Towne Drive in Fayetteville.

Known for their fresh Mediterranean cuisine, you, your family and friends can enjoy an afternoon or evening out while making a difference for the individuals and families we serve at Advocates. King David's offers delicious shish kabobs, spanakopita, pitas, gyros, grape leaves, and falafels in a "warm atmosphere with all the charm of Fayetteville." 

King David's will donate a portion of all pre-tax sales back to Advocates. Sales generated from 4pm to 7pm through online ordering and in the restaurant dining room will be credited to Advocates. Please be sure to tell the cashier that you are with Advocates.

On behalf of our individuals, families and employees, thank you for your anticipated support! We hope to see you there! 

Click here for King David's Menu!

Advocates Trainings

Health Care Notebook

Presented by: Barbara Hoffman & Sharon Linne

Parent to Parent of NYS

August 16th @ 6:00pm 

Please join us for a webinar on the Health Care Notebook. Participants will learn how a HCN can assist in organizing medical records. Tips will be given on how the notebook can assist with advocacy, save time, reduce stress, and utilize the information within the notebook in the event of an emergency.

Click here to register for this training

Understanding and Accessing Food Stamp (SNAP) Benefits

Presented by: Alice Webster | Food Bank of CNY Outreach Manager

September 20th @ 6:00pm | Virtual event

Join us for a discussion on the programs and services offered by the Food Bank of CNY, as well as other benefits you may receive just by getting SNAP benefits, such as HEAP and farmer market incentives. Learn how you can stretch your grocery dollars through programs such as Food Sense, your local food pantry, fresh foods distributions, and SNAP.

Alice will be available to prescreen and assist families residing in Onondaga County, with the application process for SNAP (food stamp) benefits. Those who live outside of Onondaga County will be referred to their counties NOEP. For those who are interested in applying, please contact Niki Dreis prior to the event, for a list of necessary documents. 

Click here to register for this training

Advocates-Sponsored Syracuse Mets Game

Agency Updates

Advocates Annual Family Picnic

A great time was had by all!

More than 400 people receiving services from Advocates and their family members/Mentors attended July's Annual Family Picnic! It was great seeing so many familiar, smiling faces enjoy an afternoon of entertainment, food, and friendship! We would like to thank Onondaga Lake Park for hosting us, all food and entertainment vendors, and the personnel from the local emergency services organizations. As always, the event wouldn’t have been possible without the many Advocates volunteers who selflessly dedicated their time and efforts. We thank you!

Click here for more photos from this event!

FLAME Concert

Advocates and ARISE co-hosted a concert featuring FLAME the Band, which is a group of talented musicians, each of whom have a disability. The inclusive evening consisted of beautiful weather, great music, dancing, camaraderie, and food provided by local food trucks!

We send our special thanks to our Presenting Sponsor eVero, and to our Supporting Sponsors: Brown & Brown, Community Bank, and OneGroup! We also thank our friends at ARISE for helping make the event so enjoyable for those we support!

FLAME truly inspires people of all ages! They tour throughout the United States, performing classics and some of their own originals. If you missed the event and would like to learn more about FLAME and their upcoming shows, please visit their website.

Click here for more photos from this event!

Movie in the Park

Advocates and David's Refuge hosted a movie night at Burnet Park in Syracuse on July 28th.

People we support took advantage of this unique opportunity and enjoyed an evening of family fun. Participants enjoyed various activities and games and a showing of the 1992 classic,

The Mighty Ducks.

Our thanks to those who attended, as well as National Grid, David's Refuge, and Syracuse Parks Conservancy for their collaboration!