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Despite the poor condition of the economy, the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF), a world leader in helping individuals with physical challenges become and remain active, is still changing lives. CAF announced today the distribution of more than $1.3 million in grants to 765 athletes with disabilities in 49 U.S. states (and the District of Columbia) and 25 countries through its Access for Athletes program. The funding – totaling $1,363,049 – will pay for adaptive sports equipment (such as Ossur running prosthetics, handcycles and sports wheelchairs), training and coaching, and competition expenses that will enable physically challenged athletes of all ages and abilities to take part in life-affirming sports.
“Given these trying times, we are thrilled to be able to provide support to such a large population of challenged athletes,” said Jeffrey Essakow, CAF’s Board President. “Over the past 16 years, CAF has directly funded more than 4,000 physically challenged individuals to become active again and compete in sports. We’re proud to say that this year CAF is changing more lives than ever before!”
Thanks to CAF’s fundraisers, sponsors and donors, CAF was able to distribute a record amount of funds to a record number of applicants through its 2009 Access for Athletes grant distribution.
Highlights of the grant distribution include:
- 765 athlete grants awarded (140 more than in 2008)
- 65% were new grantees
- 41% reported an income of less than $20,000 per year
- All ages were represented
- Most requested equipment items were: basketball chairs (105); handcycles (80); and quad rugby chairs (36)
- CAF-Florida distributed more than $186 thousand (of the $1.3 million) to 110 challenged athletes in the Southeast region of the U.S.
- Thanks to its ongoing partnership with Ossur, CAF was able to approve grants for 21 prosthetic running feet for 19 challenged athletes
Access for Athletes is designed to bridge the economic barriers to participation in sports for physically challenged athletes. “This program provides vital resources to allow challenged athletes to become active again and compete in the sports they love. Sadly, without this funding, many would be left on the sidelines,” said Virginia Tinley, CAF’s Executive Director. “That being said, we also want to make sure that these resources and adaptive equipment go to deserving individuals, so each application goes through a very detailed approval process. CAF doesn’t discriminate based on age, gender, level of ability or sports, but we do require a financial need.”
To kick-off the annual distribution and highlight CAF’s partnership with Ossur – who manufactures the prosthetic running feet CAF distributes, seven-year-old CAF Spokesperson Cody McCasland presented seven-year-old Cameron Lutges, a fellow bilateral above-knee amputee, with his very first pair of Ossur running feet. “Cameron has changed for the better because of his new running legs,” said Alex Lutges, Cameron’s father. “I think he will open up a lot more to people and not be as shy due to the confidence these new legs have given him. Now, thanks to CAF, Ossur and Michael Davidson, our prosthetist at Loma Linda University, he’s looking forward to being able to race with Cody.”
Since 1994, CAF has raised more than $21 million and provided direct financial assistance to more than 4,000 athletes around the world through its Access for Athletes Program. Through its other programs – Catch a Rising Star (mentoring and introduction to sports), Operation Rebound (for U.S. military personnel and first responders injured while serving) and Reach High (community outreach), the organization reaches an additional 65,000 individuals per year.
For a printable PDF of the 2009 CAF Grant Distribution Summary, click here: Challengedathletes.org/pdfs/2009GrantDistributionStatistics.pdf. For more information about CAF and its programs, visit: Challengedathletes.org.