The Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF), which has helped thousands of athletes with physical challenges gain access to sports, will cap off its yearlong 25th anniversary celebration with the largest annual grant distribution in its history.

Image courtesy of CAF.

CAF will make 3,260 individual grants to provide more support for adaptive sports equipment, training, and competition expenses to individuals with physical challenges of all ages and levels. According to the foundation, more than $4.8 million in funding will be awarded to athletes from all 50 states and 42 countries across 103 sports and activities. Without this funding, participation in sports would be unattainable to many due to insurance practices that rarely cover these items and the cost of adaptive equipment required to participate.

“This 2019 grant distribution [which began March 26] is a major milestone for the foundation and for all our athletes, supporters, and friends, without whom we could not have established this incredible community that has positively impacted so many lives,” noted Chief Executive Director Virginia Tinley. “The Heroes of Sport campaign champions the common spirit that all athletes share. Heroes of Sport know the time and sacrifice it takes to realize dreams. They share a belief that sports make us whole, and we support our heroes in pursuing their athletic goals with the right equipment, community, coaching, and programs. Our 2019 team of grant recipients are the best reflection of this message.”

Kicking off the Heroes of Sport campaign, NFL quarterback Drew Brees, professional golfer Michelle Wie, NBA professional basketball player Kobe Bryant,and U.S. Olympian Allyson Felix shined a light on the accomplishments of CAF ambassador athletes including wheelchair basketball Paralympic gold medalist Megan Blunk, high school quarterback Alex Ruiz, World Blind Golf Champion Jeremy Poincenot,and Paralympic track athlete Scout Bassett. The campaign has propelled awareness of CAF’s transformational programs and worldwide activities.

CAF’s programs include funding grants for adaptive sports equipment, training, and competition expenses, camps and clinics, Operation Rebound (for injured veterans and first responders), and mentorship opportunities.

Grant recipient Christina Kouros has never let anything stop her, including her congenital limb difference. As a freshman in high school, she was tired of being the team manager, so she lobbied for a law change that would allow her to earn points for her school’s track and field team in wheelchair racing. Her CAF grant will allow her to continue racing, defying laws and limitations.

James Hunt is a nightclub DJ, a substitute teacher, a hunter and fisherman, a former high school baseball player, and a golfer. He does all of this while missing all four limbs. Hunt’s first CAF grant will open the door to golf competitions around the country.

Ten-year-old Keith Harris was born missing his right hand, and despite hesitation from his parents, he was determined to play baseball. Soon enough, Harris earned his spot as a first baseman and become one of the best batters in the league. He even played first base and pitcher for the American All-Star Little League team. A CAF grant will ensure that Harris has the coaching he needs to continue playing baseball.

“Twenty-five years ago, our goal was to help one person and to see where it’s come from to now supporting 3,260 people in 42 countries around the world is unbelievable,” said Bob Babbitt, CAF co-founder and chief storyteller. “Celebrating the Heroes of Sport is about helping people realize their full potential in the face of adversity and circumstances beyond their control. Sports are the platform to help someone live their best life and that’s why we are so committed to providing access to not only equipment, but a supportive athletic community around the world.”

For more information about CAF and its programs, visit www.challengedathletes.org.

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