Challenged Athletes Foundation, the San Diego nonprofit that provides grants, adaptive equipment and training to youths and adults with disabilities, has announced its largest-ever annual grant distribution this month, awarding $6.2 million in grants to 3,256 applicants worldwide.
The grantees range from newly disabled youth and adults trying adaptive sports for the first time to elite Paralymic-level athletes needing money for travel, competitions and coaching.
This year’s grant distribution spans 83 sports and activities, including track and field, wheelchair basketball, adaptive fitness training, cycling, surfing, fly-fishing, wheelchair rugby, alpine and Nordic skiing, sled hockey and outdoor recreation. Grants were funded across all 50 states and 29 countries for individuals ranging in age from 2 to 78.
Several professional athletes surprised grantees with their checks, including NFL quarterback Drew Brees, Olympic snowboarder Shaun White and NFL hall of famer Andre Reed. On April 7, Brees awarded a grant check to 12-year-old Albee Granillo of Escondido, who was born with spina bifida. The money will be used to buy Albee a WCMX wheelchair that will help him participate in his favorite activities of Little League baseball, running, wheelchair basketball and line dancing.
Snowboarding legend and San Diego native Shaun White surprised adaptive snowboarder Zach Sherman, 35, of Pennsylvania last month in Park City, Utah. After snowboarding together, White gave Sherman a CAF grant for travel and training to compete in the sport. Sherman lost both legs and his right arm in a 2010 motorcycling accident. CAF has provided him with several grants over the years for adaptive legs and other equipment for snowboarding.
Among this year’s grant recipients, 19 percent have limb loss, 12 percent have spina bifida, 10 percent have cerebral palsy, 8 percent are paraplegic, 9 percent have spinal cord injuries, 4 percent have visual impairment and 2 percent are quadriplegic.
Because disabled people often face barriers to employment, many grants go to very needy individuals. Thirty-six percent of this year’s grantees have a household income of less than $20,000 and 26 percent of grantee households earn between $20,000 and $50,000.
Many of this year’s grants went to Paralympians, who competed in the 2020 Tokyo Games and 2022 Beijing Games. More than 55 percent of the athletes who competed received CAF grants at one time. CAF also worked with prosthetic-maker Össur to provide 80 prosthetic sports feet and knees to athletes.