The San Diego-based Challenged Athletes Foundation announced today it is distributing $3.1 million to 1,469 disabled individuals in 29 countries to help them pursue their sporting activities.
The money will fund adaptive equipment like hand-cranked cycles, sports chairs and prosthetic feet, as well as coaching and training. The funding also will cover competition expenses required to take part in what the organization calls "life-affirming" sports.
The foundation said it began sending out the funds on Tuesday.
"The benefit of a CAF grant goes so much deeper than the obvious," said Viktor White, a past CAF grant recipient. "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."
The CAF grant program has shown record growth, including a 17 percent increase in the number of applications received over last year, a 30 percent jump in approvals over 2013 and 24 percent hike in the number of sports the athletes are involved in. Some of the new activities are zumba, wheelchair skateboarding, figure skating, cross fit and aerial dancing.
The foundation said 88 percent of this year's grant requests were approved, and 53 percent of those are first time CAF grant recipients. Also, 13 percent are wounded military personnel or first responders, and 47 percent reported annual income of less than $20,000 per year.
Nearly three-quarters of the grantees are men, and the age spectrum ranges from 2 to 74. The most requested pieces of equipment are basketball chairs, 168; hand-cranked cycles, 114; sports prosthetics, 89; and bicycles, 58.
"CAF exists to help bridge the barrier between what medical insurance companies don't cover, and the adaptive sporting equipment challenged athletes need to get active and be healthy," said Virginia Tinley, CAF's executive director. "CAF's annual grant program fills an important void that otherwise can leave challenged athletes on the sidelines."
Since 1994, CAF has raised more than $53 million and provided direct financial assistance to more than 9,500 challenged athletes around the world.—City News Service