The Challenged Athletes Foundation recently announced its Access to Athletes grants program distributed grants worth more than $3.7 million to 2,098 challenged athletes in 32 countries this year.
The Access to Athletes program offers financial assistance for adaptive sports equipment, training and competition expenses. According to a press release from the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF), the 2016 distribution is the largest in the organization’s 23-year history.
One recipient is Richard Sarinana, a transtibial amputee who received a grant for a running blade.
“I have been waiting for this opportunity to come and now that it has, I can take my life in a new direction,” Sarinana said in the release. “No excuses for not being able to run comfortably now that I will be receiving my Össur Flex Run [prosthesis].”
According to the release, CAF’s Access for Athletes program received 30% more applications and approved 22% more grants in 2016 than in 2015. Of this year’s grant recipients, 50% are first-time recipients and 12% are wounded military personnel and first responders. Recipients ranged in age from 3 years to 72 years, and 98 recipients are Paralympians or Paralympic hopefuls.
CAF’s most requested pieces of equipment include sports chairs, handcycles, sports prostheses and adaptive bicycles. According to the release, adaptive sports equipment is expensive and not typically covered by medical insurance.
“Any individual who has a physical challenge should never feel like they do not have the proper support or opportunities to succeed in life,” Bill Geppert, chief executive officer of CAF, said. “At CAF, we are proud to be able to provide those life-changing opportunities to thousands of challenges athletes around the world, so they can pursue an active lifestyle through sports, resulting in a greater sense of independence, self-esteem and overall quality of life.”