Overcoming Financial Hurdles
Your guide to adaptive equipment grants
Story by Nick Pryor
A new pair of shoes or shorts and maybe a new headband — it doesn’t cost much to become an athlete, unless you’re an adaptive athlete. Add a new prosthetic device, the cost to get that prosthetic fitted, and the travel costs of getting to an adaptive sports competition to the list and suddenly becoming an athlete isn’t so easy, or cheap.
People with disabilities want to participate in adaptive sports, yet there are only a few competitions a year where we can compete with others in the community. Many times, we don’t know where these competitions take place or how to afford the costs of becoming an adaptive athlete.
Many of us ask ourselves three questions: Who am I? Can I do this? How can I do it?
Spending time with our peers and competing with them can help us find the answers to all three questions. The hurdle is finding the funding to becoming an adaptive athlete. And for many, searching for what resources are out and available to us is a daunting task.
In sports there are always costs: hotel expenses, flights, meals, coaching, etc. In adaptive sports it’s more than the price of shoes, but the highly-priced assistive technology that allows athletes to perform. The price of running blades, sports chairs, extra wheels, registrations, etc., shouldn’t detour human potential.
There are ways to alleviate some of the costs and frustrations of becoming an adaptive athlete. Different organizations and groups offer grants and financial aid to adaptive athletes who want to compete. You just need to know where to find help.
For example, the biggest organization distributing grants is the Challenged Athlete’s Foundation (CAF). This past year, CAF awarded 2,806 individuals grants totaling $4.3 million.
Here are a few tips on how you can alleviate those stresses and start focusing on your athletic career: one, know what kind of grants you qualify for; two, know what you need to do to get the grants; three, apply for the grants.
Know what kind of grant you need.
There are different kinds of grants you can get as an adaptive athlete. Some grants will help cover competition and travel expenses. Other grants help with the costs of coaching and training. And, there are grants that will help pay for equipment.
Know your “To Do’s” list.
To apply for these grants, you need to start getting a few things together. First, create a bio. The people who award these grants want to get to know you. They want to know your story, your likes and what goals you have as an athlete.
Next, you’re going to need to include proof of income and two reference letters in the grant application. For the reference letters, make sure one is from a medical professional and the other can be from a fellow athlete, peer, family member or even a coach.
Apply for the grant.
After you have learned about the different types of grants that exist and have finished your “to do” list, you can finally apply for the grant you need. When you apply, make sure it is the type of grant you need and include an estimation of all your costs.
What kind of Grants
- Competition/Travel Expenses
- Coaching/Training Expenses
- Equipment Expenses
- Create a bio
- Retrieve paperwork
- Proof of income
- 2 reference letters (1 from medical professional, 1 from a fellow athlete, peer, family member or coach)
- Know what grant you want and estimate the cost
As a kid, I never knew that adaptive sports existed. Today, I play sports and have so many opportunities presented to me. It is now my life goal to let every person, who may be struggling in some way, who may be different or who may want to better him or herself, know that they can do whatever they want.
If you want it, go get it. It is that simple. LIVE YOUR DREAM.
Nick is an athlete, coach, and program coordinator at Ability360 Sports and Fitness Center. He is a proud Hoosier where he grew up and graduated from Indiana University. He ventured to the desert to continue his education and love of sports while attending ASU, studying adaptive sport and recreation.