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Adopt-an-adaptive sport

Rafting2In keeping with the December theme of charitable giving, Timeout has traditionally featured ways in which readers can channel their athleticism into fund-raising for worthy causes. Giving-through-sport can be made even more personal and meaningful when an able-bodied athlete contributes his or her expertise to helping a disabled person achieve the same feelings of joy and accomplishment that meeting physical challenges brings. The profile of adaptive sports has been heightened in recent years, not only by the phenomenal performances witnessed at recent International Paralympic Games, but also at the local level with the expanding investment in adaptive sports facilities in the Phoenix and Tucson metro areas.

Several organizations that promote adaptive sports are described below to give an idea of the broad range of opportunities available to help people access the world of recreational sports who could not do so without the enthusiastic support of others.  

River of Dreams


In partnership with the Virginia G. Piper Sports and Fitness Center, Phoenix (SpoFit), River of Dreams is a volunteer-driven non-profit that works to provide adaptive outdoor recreation opportunities to youth and adults with disabilities living in the Phoenix metro area. River of Dreams has a number of programs to bring nature-based activities to people with significant disabilities. The River Rampage program conducts week-long rafting and camping expeditions for teens between the ages of 14 and 20 with and without disabilities. Daring Adventures is a series of eight challenging programs offered throughout the calendar year for youth and adults with disabilities covering a range of activities: kayaking, cross-country skiing, sled ice hockey and skating, cycling, indoor rock climbing, hiking, backpacking and wilderness camping. All equipment and training is provided by the program; program fees vary by activity but scholarships are available for participants who need financial aid. Most recently, River of Dreams has been chosen to provide the outdoor recreational programming for the Wounded Warriors Project’s Physical Health and Wellness Initiative, established to aid injured service members recover and return to normalcy. Those interested in volunteering should go to wwp@river-of-dreams.org. Monetary donations can be made to River of Dreams through their website.

Southwest Slammers Beep Baseball Team

c/o Olivia Duron, 1811 W. Prince Rd., Space #23, Tucson 85705

Beep Baseball is a version of America’s favorite pastime for the visually impaired, and the Southwest Slammers is a coed Beep team organized in Tucson. The Slammers have been very successful in enabling their players to compete with other teams in the National Beep Baseball Association due to their creative fundraising and dedicated volunteers. The game requires the purchase of some very specialized equipment, such as padded, horizontal “bases” and oversized balls that emit sound so that players can locate them in space. Volunteers ballplayers are just as critical because the positions of pitcher, catcher and spotter must all be filled by sighted persons. Get inspired by seeing how the game is played at youtube.com/watch?v=yJjxI04NVI4. To discuss your sponsorship/donation or interest in volunteering, please contact Olivia Duron at 520-429-5191 or 480-560-6137, or by e-mail to oduron25@me.com or h20wife@yahoo.com. One hundred percent of the donations will go to financing the team’s travel and training for the 2014 National Beep Baseball Tournament in Rochester, Minnesota. 

horsemashipCamelot Therapeutic Horsemanship

23623 N. Scottsdale Rd., D3-259, Scottsdale 85255; 480-515-1542; camelotaz.org

Founded in 1980, Camelot provides comprehensive one-on-one horsemanship instruction and services to children and adults with disabilities at no cost. Their facility consists of 14.25 acres in the Pinnacle Peak area of north Scottsdale and includes a covered riding arena as well as open trails. One-time monetary donations or recurring monthly donations can be made through the website. But, volunteers are essential to the success of Camelot’s programs; they need ranch hands, groundskeepers and instructor assistants. Due to the responsibilities involved, volunteers are asked to complete an on-line application, undergo a background check and make a minimum six-month commitment to work 2-4 hours once or twice a week.

Team Mesa Adaptive Sports 

Broadway Recreation Center, 59 East Broadway Rd., Mesa 85210; arizonadisabledsports.com/Team_Mesa.html

The Team Mesa Adaptive Sports programs represent a cooperative effort of the City of Mesa Parks, Recreation and Commercial Facilities, the Mesa Public Schools and the Mesa Association of Sports for the Disabled. The collaboration also serves as the Mesa delegation of Special Olympics Arizona, offering year-round sports training and competitions for the entire state. Team Mesa is designed specifically for students and adults with developmental disabilities, but the program also provides sports and events for athletes who are both intellectually and physically disabled. There are adaptive programs for individuals ages 8 through adulthood and include aquatics, bocce ball, bowling, basketball, golf, floor hockey, cheerleading, tennis, and track and field. Donations can be made on-line and to learn about volunteer opportunities contact the volunteer coordinator at 480-644-4345 or e-mail beverlee.nielsen@mesaaz.gov.

Arizona Recreation Center for the Handicapped

1550 West Colter Street, Phoenix 85015; 602-230-2220; archaz.org

The “drop-in” recreation center has scheduled events daily, Monday through Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., including swimming, weight-lifting, bowling and pool. The Center also runs a summer camp for children. Volunteers are needed as daily activity assistants and Special Olympics coaches.

biking2Junior Handcycling Program

azliftandcare.com/junior_cycling_program.php; 520-401-4411

Developed in the 1980s, handcycling enables persons with no or limited use of their legs to enjoy the liberating mobility and excitement of outdoor cycling. The biggest barrier to participation in the sport is the high cost of the machines. Former Paralympian and winner of many national and international handcycling competitions, Greg Hockensmith, has tried to ameliorate the situation by offering cycles at much lower-than-usual cost through his company, AZ Lift and Care, in Tucson. Additionally, through his Junior Handcycling Program in partnership with the JAWS (Juniors Active in Wheelchair Sports) program at the University of Arizona’s Disability Resource Center, bikes are loaned to participants between 5 and 18, so they can receive coaching and an introduction to competitive events. The program accepts donations for the purchase of handcycles for kids unable to afford them through Perimeter Bicycling, 2609 E Broadway, Tucson, AZ 85716. 

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This Article appears on the December 2013 issue of LPM under Fitness

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