Desert Ability Center
This grant allowed us to purchase handcycles as well as adaptive sports equipment. These items made it possible for us to keep our cycling program going at full steam and brought adaptive sports to the Ability Festival we had not been able to offer in the past.
We are so appreciative of your support and that of the foundation that has afforded us the opportunity to expand our offerings and watch our participants develop their skills. I have included a few short stories in the summary to give you an idea of the impact.
ADDITION OF SPORTS. First Nonprofit Foundation funds were used to add two new sports at the annual Ability Festival including WCMX (wheelchair skateboarding) and sit volleyball, a Paralympic Sport for amputees and people with lower body limitations. WCMX is becoming one of the fastest growing adaptive sports as wheelchair-using kids strive to do what other kids do – have fun. The availability of sit volleyball equipment opens the opportunity for creating sitting volleyball as one of DAC’s regularly scheduled events. More than 160 participants had the opportunity to experience these sports.
SUSTAINING CYCLE PROGRAM. The addition of paracycles supported DAC’s longest running program – cycling. Cycling started with 2-mile rides in a local park. The DAC cyclists now ride up to 26 miles. Riders, like Damian, started with a handcycle trike and advanced to an entry level handcycle and now his first racing cycle, keeping an even pace with the 26-milers.
OTHER BENEFITS OF ADAPTIVE SPORTS. Damian’s participation in cycling has given him the confidence to participate in wheelchair tennis as well as karate. He recently received a silver medal in karate at his first competition after only three months of training. Damian often accompanies the DAC Director to speak about the value of adaptive sports at local meetings.
Damian is truly what DAC and adaptive sports are about – mobility, independence and the opportunity to engage within their community alongside their friends, family and peers. Damian is making a huge difference not only for himself, but those who will come behind him.
The ability to build our cycle inventory was just the impetus veteran Ed Granados needed to take cycling to a new level. Besides our monthly rides, Ed ran additional clinics throughout the month to keep in shape and push the riders performance. For his kindness, Ed was awarded the 2019 DAC Heart and Soul award.
Cycling has proven to be such a significant spring board for those with spinal cord injuries, neurological disorders and amputations that DAC will be creating a training opportunity to take place during the summer months when it is too hot in the desert to ride. In collaboration with a local private gym, that has two spinal cord injured staff members and pending approval of grants for cycles and cycle trainers that allow for indoor riding, a three month program of training will be launched to maintain and retain riding skills in preparation for re-launch of cycling in the fall 2019. Our wheelchair accessible rowing machines will also be used in the program as well as wheelchair accessible resistance training equipment in the near future. The owners of the gym indicated a willingness to expand the facility as the programs grows. This is a huge step toward providing year round programming for people living with physical disabilities.
WHEELCHAIR SPORTS EXPANSION. The sports wheelchairs purchased previously had a unique opportunity to raise awareness of adaptive sports at our first Adaptive Sports Experience tennis clinic at the JW Marriott Desert Springs. Coaches and tennis players from local high schools, as well as DAC wheelchair players, shared a day on the court. Everyone walked away exhilarated (and exhausted) as they came to understand that wheelchair tennis is, indeed a challenging and real sport. Damian, who will be attending high school in fall 2019, is hoping to see wheelchair tennis opportunities at his school when he arrives. Should this come to fruition, it would be the first wheelchair tennis program on a campus in the Coachella Valley.