At the beginning of April, the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF) distributed an “unprecedented” amount of funds to athletes with physical disabilities. The grant distribution targets 1,469 challenges athletes in 29 countries, totaling more than $3.1 million in support through CAF’s annual Access for Athletes grant program, according to a CAF news release. The grants are intended to fund adaptive equipment including handcycles, sport chairs, and running feet, training and coaching, as well as competition expenses that will enable athletes with physical challenges of all ages and abilities to take part in sports.
Viktor White, past CAF grant recipient, expresses the benefits he has seen from the funding and the importance of the grants, “Thanks to each of the grants I have received, I have been able to stay fit, experience higher levels of competition and make many new friends, both from this country and abroad. Most importantly, I have been able to pursue personal excellence with a passion…”
The release from CAF reports that the determination and commitment of its donors, sponsors, and fundraisers has enabled the organization to fund the historic number of grants.
CAF celebrated the 2014 grant distribution and the wide spectrum of challenged athletes and sports represented by surprising grant recipients across the US during the inaugural Grant Week, which was held April 1 to 8.
The release notes that key highlights of CAF’s Access for Athletes program include a 17% growth in applications received during 2013, a 30% growth in the number of grants approved during 2013, and a 24% growth in the number of sports supported. New sports include Zumba, wheelchair skateboarding, figure skating, Cross Fit, and aerial dancing.
Additional percentages spotlighted in the release include those seen in CAF’s 2014 grant distribution. These percentages note that 88% of grants received by CAF were approved. A total of 53% of individuals approved are first time grant recipients and 13% are wounded military personnel and first responders. Seventy-two percent of grantees are men and 28% are women and all ages are represented, according to the release. The most requested pieces of equipment include basketball chairs (total of 168), handcycles (total of 114), sports prosthetics (total of 89), and bicycles (total of 58).
Virginia Tinley, executive director, CAF, says the organization exists to help bridge the barrier between what medical insurance companies don’t cover, to that end “…CAF’s annual grant program fills an important void that otherwise can leave challenged athletes on the sidelines.”
Photo Credit: CAF