A BALANCE RESOURCE ARTICLE by Alyson Mandel
Community is a word you often hear connected to Balance. Balance is a carefully choreographed chaos of personal training, group fitness classes, physical therapy and recovery, biometrics assessments, nutrition counseling and, of course, the quick (or not so quick) chat by the door. Although each person who walks through Balance’s front door may arrive with a different personal goal, once inside there is a sense that, as a community, we are helping each other reach those goals. After all, most of us could work out at home or go for a run by ourselves but we don’t - we prefer to sweat in a group setting.
We all know the motivating power of accountability and the inspiration that comes from surrounding ourselves with others who are working hard and challenging themselves. Amy’s vision for Balance is based upon her strong belief in the power of community and teamwork. You can see that vision at play every day at Balance– in Goals programs, in Tribe sessions, and in B-Inspired trip training programs. Amy’s vision also expands outside of Balance’s walls and involves building important connections with the broader community – whether it is supporting local businesses, getting a team from Balance to volunteer at Stepping Stones, or creating a resource board for Balance members to share information and support each other.
This Fall Amy is re-connecting with an organization very close to her heart. She has signed on to run a marathon in support of the Challenged Athlete Foundation. CAF started in 1994 to support individuals with physical challenges so they can be physically active and competitive athletes at the highest levels. One of the most important ways this organization supports athletes is by providing the often expensive equipment and resources they need to participate and compete. The Foundation’s motto is “Empowering Lives Through Sport” and the guiding belief of the organization is that involvement in sports increases self-esteem, encourages independence and enhances quality of life. They have awarded over 26,000 grants, with 30% of their funded grants going to athletes under the age of 18.
There are more than 20 million people in the United States living with physical challenges. Half of those people are not able to get the physical or aerobic exercise they need. In children with physical disabilities, there is a 38% obesity rate. One of the biggest obstacles to physical activity and athletic competition is a lack of access to equipment and resources. Since insurance often doesn’t cover the cost of “adaptive equipment”, individuals face high out of pocket expenses. On their website, CAF lists the cost of a prosthetic as $15,000 and the cost of a specialized sport wheelchair at $6000. In addition, there has not been adequate access to mentorship and opportunity for adaptive sports in many areas of the country, or the world.
Amy has had the opportunity to compete with triathlete Sarah Reinersten, a CAF grant recipient and a spokesperson for CAF. She is the first woman with a prosthetic to complete an IronMan World Championship (in 2005). She is an Ironman triathlete (completing her second race at Kona in 2018), a paralympian (Barcelona 1992), an author, motivational speaker, and mentor.
In Sarah’s words:
CAF provides resources and mentorship for all levels of fitness interest - from recreational to Olympic athletes. In the 2018 Winter Paralympic Games, CAF funded over 50% of the USA team. Recipients of CAF grants are referred to as Heroes of Sport and they are recognized for empowering the hero in themselves and in others. In 2019, CAF funded 3,260 athletes, granting 4.8 million dollars. Particularly important is that this money goes not just to equipment but to coaching and mentorship, a critical component to helping these athletes attain their goals. The stories of athletes who have received grants from CAF are powerful.
In 2019, athletes receiving grants included:
Christina who has a congenital limb difference. Tired of being the “Team Manager” in high school, she lobbied for a law change that allowed her to earn points for her school’s track and field team in a racing chair. Her CAF grant allows her to continue racing.
Meredith who at 24 was crushed by a piano that fell out of a pickup truck leaving her with a spinal cord injury that resulted in paraplegia. After finding a CAF swim clinic in Boston, she has found a calling for the new sport and is training to make the US Paralympic swim team.
Easton, a second grader born with Spina Bifida, is working on a nation wide project to build three inclusive playgrounds in the country. He received a WCMX wheelchair.
CAF’s focus on community building and the positive power of physical activity and sport make it a perfect match for Amy and her vision of community “active” ism. (Get it?)
Amy will be training from now until November and there are a few ways to help support her in her training and fundraising goals.
We have scheduled two group fitness events as fundraisers.
REGISTRATION IS FREE WITH DONATION.
Wed. 9/18 @ noon
Wed. 10/2 @ noon
(Mindbody open for registration on 9/18)
Help Amy reach her fundraising goal for CAF by donating on her CAF Marathon page. Her goal is $3500 by October 15.