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Challenged Athletes Foundation Gains 2,806 Individual Grants Totaling Over $4.3 Million

CAF-1The Challenged Athletes Foundation® (CAF) is proud to announce unprecedented financial support through its annual grant programs, which provide financial assistance for adaptive sports equipment, specialized running prosthetics, coaching, mentoring, travel and competition expenses for individuals with physical challenges of all ages and levels who wish to live active lifestyles and compete in sports.

Through the 2018 distribution – the largest grant distribution to-date in the organization’s 25-year history – 2,806 individual grants in 40 countries are making it possible for individuals to achieve their athletic dreams across 95 sports from basketball to CrossFit and rock climbing. These grants represent more than $4.3 million in support and a 17% growth in the number of approved grants over the 2017 calendar year. The grants, which are one of the many ways CAF supports athletes with permanent physical challenges, empower individuals through increased confidence, independence and connection through life-affirming sports and fitness activities. CAF is a leading resource in the adaptive sports community, helping those born with a physical impairment or those struggling after a life-changing accident to push past perceived limitations to live healthier and find success in sports and in life.

“On the occasion of our 25th Anniversary, we are proud to announce our largest grant distribution to date,” said Virginia Tinley, Chief Executive Director. “We have focused on expanding our travel and competition grant funding as well as our partnership with the YMCA to ensure we can give our athletes access to the sports and fitness experiences they are seeking to enhance their lives.”

2018 Grant Program Stats:

  • 95 different sports
  • 40 countries and 48 states
  • 40% of grants to households with household incomes under $20,000
  • 25% of grants to households with household incomes $20,000- $50,000
  • 30% given to Youth Athletes under 18
  • 41% First Time Grant Recipients
  • 66% Male/ 34% Female
  • Operation Rebound Program – 314 Grants totaling $509,990 in funding awarded to permanently injured veterans and first responders

Breakdown by physical disability

Amputee 20%
Paraplegic 18%
Visually Impaired 14%
Cerebral Palsy 12%
Spina Bifida 12%
Quadriplegic 5%
Polio 2%
Muscular Dystrophy 2%
Other 15%

Most popular grant awards by sport

Wheelchair Basketball 336
Track & Field/Running/Triathlon 232
Cycling 203
Beep Baseball/Softball 121
Sled Hockey/Ice Skating 86
Swimming 73
Wheelchair Tennis 68
Wheelchair Rugby 49
Surfing 42
Power Soccer 40
Fitness/Powerlifting/Crossfit/Yoga 34
Alpine Skiing 29
Bowling 27
Equestrian 26
Rock Climbing/Hiking 25

Adaptive sports equipment is expensive and not covered by medical insurance, which means most athletes with a desire to be active and compete are not able to reach their potential. In addition, adaptive sports competitions often require significant travel, often out of financial reach for many athletes. CAF Co-Founder and Chief Storyteller, Bob Babbitt, shared, “We believe sports is a pathway to more in life and that’s why we are so committed to providing access to equipment, travel and competition for athletes of all abilities across a wide variety of sports and activities.”

CAF grants are made possible by generous donors, global partners, sponsors and fundraisers to the organization and major grant funders.

Global partners are: Nike, Össur, Smoothie King, Accenture and YMCA.

Major grant funders are: Craig H. Neilsen Foundation, David C. Copley Foundation, S. Mark Taper Foundation, Hanger Foundation, Maximus Foundation and USA Triathlon Foundation.

CAF grant partners support our athletes with equipment and services to ensure they are properly fitted for the right equipment and have a place to train: Össur – Global Prosthetics Partner, YMCA of San Diego County and select other regional YMCA’s , High Performance Mobility, Invacare Top End, Per4Max Wheelchairs, Box Wheelchairs, Vesco Metal Craft, Melrose and Eagle Sport Chairs.

Grant Recipient Spotlights

Name: Logan Passe, Age 8

Sport: Handcycling

City: Brooklyn, NY

Grant: Lil Excelerator 2 (Handcycle)

Bio: Logan is a resilient and determined 8-year-old who loves the outdoors. He was born with congenital tibial hemimelia and his legs were amputated before the age of two. Logan can’t wait to ride his new handcycle.

Motto: “Determination and structure is the key to winning.”

Disability: Double Amputee


Name: Grace Lockwood, Age 14

Sport: Swimming

City: San Diego, CA

Grant: Funding for Para World Series of Swimming

Bio: Grace feels most alive when she’s in the water swimming and competing. She turned to CAF after being diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy and is now informing others about the power of adaptive athletics and working toward her ultimate dream of swimming in the Paralympics.

Motto: “There’s a fire inside of me that I can always reach, no matter how difficult things may seem in that moment.”

Disability: Cerebral Palsy

Name: Michelle Wilson, Age 17

Sport: Wheelchair Tennis

City: Sevierville, TN

Grant: Competition/Travel grant

Bio: A cancer diagnosis and subsequent leg amputation left Michelle thinking her childhood tennis dreams were over. Michelle is now highly ranked in wheelchair tennis.

Motto: “Wilsons never quit.”

Disability: Amputee

About Jerry Milani

Jerry Milani is a writer and public relations executive living in Bloomfield, N.J. He has worked in P.R. for more than 30 years in college and conference sports media relations, two agencies and for the International Fight League, a team-based mixed martial arts league, and as a freelance professional. His PR clients have included Wizard World and FAN EXPO, which produce pop culture and celebrity conventions across North America, USA Wrestling, the National Lacrosse League, Strat-O-Matic Media, the Pacific Life Open and Pilot Pen Tennis tournaments and dozens of others. Milani is also the director of athletic communications for Caldwell University. He is a proud graduate of North Rockland High School and Fordham University and when not attending a Yankees, Rams or Cougars game can be reached at Jerry (at) JerryMilani (dot) com.

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