Dear Friends of BlazeSports America,
With this year drawing to a close, I want to thank you for your support of BlazeSports and extend our wishes for the happiest of holidays and a very Happy New Year. As the global economy continued to stall in 2011, it is a testament to the vitality and versatility of BlazeSports America that the past year brought us growth and new opportunities. While many nonprofit organizations are struggling just to maintain the status quo, BlazeSports reached new heights. Our culture of innovation continued to reap dividends this year with new programs, partnerships, and initiatives putting us at the forefront in development of sport for advancing the lives of persons with physical disability. We have created and developed new sport opportunities, pathways to independence, technical expertise and toolkits, education and training programs, web-based resources, and even used Paralympic and disability sports for the development of human rights, peace-building, and economic empowerment.
This year, our work brought recognition and new funding from the US Agency for International Development (USAID), the United Nations Office of Sport for Development and Peace, the United European Football Association (UEFA), and the US Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. With their support, we are continuing and deepening our ongoing efforts in Haiti and Jordan while establishing new program components in Russia. We founded a permanent office and BlazeSports Academy in Haiti, and successfully recruited Daniel Pierre-Charles, the country’s celebrated and now-former Director General of the Ministry of Youth, Sport and Civic Action, to spearhead our work there. Further, we have renewed our commitment and efforts to promote health and human rights through sport for persons with disability in Kenya and Egypt.
In the national arena, our partnership with the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in the Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW) initiative created a model public-private partnership that is making sustainable community change a reality. And the BlazeSports Certified Disability Sport Specialist (CDSS) credential launched in 2010 has already been widely embraced by sports organizations, rehabilitation centers, and universities in the USA and abroad. The courses and curriculum developed by the BlazeSports Institute provides a much-needed rigorous and formal process to educate and to evaluate the competencies, experience, and training of professionals in the field. BlazeSports veterans’ sports and community reintegration services have expanded and are reaching veterans and injured military service members throughout Georgia and the Southeast.
On the Georgia front, the Georgia Department of Labor and Roosevelt Warm Springs Institute for Rehabilitation continue to be major linchpins of the BlazeSports operation. The BlazeSports Georgia FirstWork program was launched and provides prevocational training and seasonal work for young adults with disability in Georgia in the field of recreation and sport administration. The demand for BlazeSports teams, afterschool programs, and BlazeDays in the Schools events has exploded despite the significant decline in State support due to the economic climate. We are making steady progress in securing community sponsors and are grateful for local foundation support that is keeping our kids active in wheelchair basketball, swimming, boccia, track and field, and outdoor adventure activities.
I am both grateful and proud of the leadership and commitment shown by the entire BlazeTeam – our Board Members, staff, volunteers, interns, parents, and of course, our young athletes. Our sustained innovation and success, however, is not conjured from thin air. They require dedication, knowledge, creativity, and, yes, money. BlazeSports manages to run a dynamic global and domestic operation with a cost-effectiveness that is nearly unheard of in the industry, but we still need your help to keep pushing forward. If you have not yet had the chance to offer your holiday gift to BlazeSports America, I ask that you please do so before the year’s end. Only checks dated 2011 and received by January 16th will be counted toward our 2011 annual total, and the larger the total giving, the more funds we have on-hand to continue changing lives and the more competitive we are when we apply for grants in the upcoming year. Alternatively, you may give online at Please support BlazeSports. At BlazeSports, we believe in stewardship and try hard not to over-ask. But we need your help to provide those donor dollars that multiply by giving us the matching resources that grants often require and enable us to help swiftly when a child, or family, or country faces an unexpected disaster.
I know that the holidays can be an expensive time, but BlazeSports depends on you. And no matter the size of your gift, you do make a very real difference in the lives of those we serve. Together, we are building a better future for children and adults with disabilities. With your help, 2012 can bring a better tomorrow for the thousands who depend on us and on your generousity.
Wishing you all the best,
Carol Mushett, CEO