Our Purpose

We’ve always understood the positive impact sports can have, from promoting life-long health and personal empowerment to providing successful futures for young people with disabilities. From the start, we’ve been dedicated to ensuring the quality, diversity and availability of our programs are equal to sports programs open to those without disabilities.

We believe BlazeSports’ commitment to equity, inclusion and the application of interdisciplinary, evidence-based practice fosters a culture of innovation and efficacy. By cultivating local, state, national and international strategic partnerships with like-minded organizations, BlazeSports America is advancing the equality, visibility and human rights of people with physical disabilities through sport.

Mission

BlazeSports America’s mission is to change the lives of children and adults with physical disabilities through sport.

Core Values

BlazeSports America and its programs are guided by the following set of core values:

  • Integrity: We act with integrity and steadfast adherence to ethical standards with the people we serve, the decisions we make, and the communities we support.
  • Excellence: We strive for excellence by promoting superior performance through self-evaluation, accountability, personal discipline, creativity, and a passion for learning.
  • Empowerment: We tenaciously pursue individual and collective empowerment of persons with disability and disenfranchised youth through advocacy, visibility, the prevention of chronic illness, and the active pursuit of human rights.
  • Innovation We value and encourage original thought, fresh ideas, dynamic programming, and evidence-based inspiration.
  • Teamwork: We pursue a vision of teamwork that incorporates mutual respect, humor, rigor, and communication while building synergy and increasing the effectiveness of all involved.
  • Stewardship: We embrace the responsibility for being good stewards of all resources entrusted to our care and ensuring the sustainability of the organization and programs we provide.

Goals

  • To provide sport, recreation and physical activity opportunities for people with physical disability in sport comparable to those provided non-disabled, nationally and internationally.
  • To foster character development, productive lives, healthy lifestyles and self-sufficiency for people with physical disability through sport.
  • To use cutting-edge training, distance learning opportunities, and fresh ideas as a vehicle to build the capacity of local service providers.
  • To build positive perceptions of people with physical disability.
  • To promote peace building, human rights and equity through sport.

History

BlazeSports America is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that is the legacy organization of the 1996 Paralympic Games held in Atlanta, Ga. These games, the first held on American soil, were the realization of the dreams of thousands of Americans involved in the growth and promotion of sports for persons with physical disabilities in the United States. Read more»

About Our Mascot, Blaze

Blaze is a phoenix, a mythical bird that rises from ashes to experience a renewed life. The phoenix appears in Egyptian, Arabian, Chinese, Russian and native American lore and in all instances symbolizes strength, vision, inspiration and survival, making it the ideal mascot for BlazeSports. Blaze first appeared at the 1996 Atlanta Paralympic Games, before becoming BlazeSports’ official mascot. With his bright colors, height and broad wing span, Blaze best represents those with disabilities’ drive to succeed as they pursue sports recreationally and competitively. Today, Blaze is the most recognizable symbol of disability sport in America – and perhaps in the world.

Fun facts about Blaze:

  • Blaze is a foot taller that Shaquille O’Neal and has a reach that is three feet longer than Evander Holyfield’s.
  • Blaze was the official mascot of the 1996 Atlanta Paralympic Games.
  • Blaze is 8 feet, 3 inches tall. His wingspan is 8 feet, 6 inches and his beak is 20 inches front to back.
  • Blaze is a phoenix, symbolizing his new hometown, Atlanta, which rose from the ashes of the Civil War, and the Paralympic athlete, who overcomes great challenges to achieve athletic excellence.
  • Blaze continues as the permanent representative of the BlazeSports America and an enduring symbol of the triumph of the human spirit.

Seeking to develop a national program of community-based adaptive sports for children and adults with physical disabilities, the Atlanta Paralympic Organizing Committee established the United States Disabled Athletes Fund in 1993. In partnership with the Georgia Recreation and Park Association and its member agencies, the USDAF rolled out a model program called BlazeSports Georgia in 1998. The program, named BlazeSports Georgia after the wildly popular Atlanta Paralympic Games’ mascot Blaze, quickly evolved into a comprehensive plan providing year-round local programs delivered by the community recreation provider; state-level sport camps, clinics, junior teams and competitions delivered by BlazeSports Georgia; and state and regional competitions sponsored by USDAF and other partnering organizations.

In 2002, USDAF launched a national program, BlazeSports America, in partnership with the National Recreation and Park Association. Today BlazeSports America provides direct service in Georgia and nationally and internationally in developing countries. BlazeSports is also affiliated with local BlazeSports teams/programs in more than 60 communities and 29 states and the District of Columbia.

In 2006, USDAF officially changed its name to BlazeSports America. In 2007, the organization restructured to create the BlazeSports International Institute for Applied Sciences – the Division of Training and Education and the Division of Policy and Global Outreach to reflect the organization’s historical role in capacity building and creating more local opportunities for disability sports in the United States and the developing world such as Egypt, South Africa, Jordan, Morocco and most recently Iran and Haiti.

BlazeSports America is recognized by the United States Olympic Committee serving on its Multi-Sport Organizational Council and serves as the National Coordinating Body for competitive sports for individuals with cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury and survivors of stroke. BlazeSports is also is the national member organization of the Cerebral Palsy International Sports and Recreation Association. CPISRA is a founding member of the International Paralympic Committee.

BlazeSports is led by a multi and interdisciplinary staff and board representing the fields of disability sport, therapeutic recreation, physical education, sport psychology, sports science, nutrition, health promotion, and public health.

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