Funding helps individuals with permanent physical challenges gain access to sports and an active lifestyle through adaptive sports equipment, coaching expenses, YMCA memberships and competition travel expenses

San Diego, California, UNITED STATES

San Diego, CA, April 17, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The 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

Adaptive Cycling                                            203

Beep Baseball/Softball                                    121

Sled Hockey/Ice Skating                                   86

Adaptive Swimming                                          73

Wheelchair Tennis                                             68

Wheelchair Rugby                                             49

Adaptive 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 13

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 16

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


Read more 2018 Grant Recipient Stories here:

The Next Generation -

Thriving After Surviving -

Path to Paralympics -

Operation Rebound: Frontline to Finish Line -

Committed to an Active Lifestyle -

Media Kit –  Grant Recipient Bios and Images: 

Follow 2018 grant recipients on social media through #TeamCAF and #ThankstoCAF on Facebook- Challenged Athletes Foundation, Twitter- @CAFoundation and Instagram- @CAFoundation.

San Diego Grant Night Presentation

When: Wednesday, April 25th 2018. 6pm-8pm. Media interviews with athletes starting at 5pm.

Where: Deni and Jeff Jacobs Challenged Athletes Center

9591 Waples Street

San Diego, CA 92121

What: Special Presentations to local challenged athlete grant recipients.

San Francisco Grant Night Presentation

When: Saturday, April 28th 2018. 5pm-7:30pm.

Where: SF NEMA
1401 Market Street
San Francisco, CA 94103

San Diego, CA 92121

What: Special Presentations to local challenged athlete grant recipients. The evening will include a special grant presentation in loving memory of Kate Steinle, a dear friend to CAF.

About the Challenged Athletes Foundation

The Challenged Athletes Foundation® (CAF) is a world leader in helping people with physical challenges lead active, healthy lifestyles. CAF believes that participation in physical activity at any level increases self-esteem, encourages independence and enhances quality of life. Since 1994, more than $95 million has been raised and over 21,000 grants funded to people with physical challenges in all 50 states and 70 countries. Additionally, CAF’s outreach efforts impact another 60,000 individuals each year. Whether it’s a $2,500 grant for a handcycle, helping underwrite a carbon fiber running foot not covered by insurance, or arranging enthusiastic encouragement from a mentor who has triumphed over a similar challenge, CAF’s mission is clear: give opportunities and support to those with the desire to live an active and athletic lifestyle. To learn more, visit and follow @cafoundation.



Wheelchair Tennis Athletes- Mayli Gibson and Emma Mondragon

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