Help us honor Olympic Day and celebrate 20 years of BlazeSports America with the 2nd Annual BlazeSports Olympic Day Track & Field Meet!
Nine BlazeSports track and field athletes competed in the 2016 Dixie Games and returned to Atlanta with great success.
The team, made up of four youth athletes, five veteran athletes and three coaches, traveled to Tampa, Florida May 13-15 and competed in multiple track and field events as well as other sports, such as archery and table tennis.
While some athletes were returning to the Dixie Games this year, four athletes participated in the competition for the first time. These were youth athletes Ben Vondrak, Bryce Davis and Cathryn Gray and veteran Cedric Geter.
All of the BlazeSports youth athletes qualified to compete in the National Junior Disability Championships in July, and first-time competitor Davis set national records in his class for shot put, discus and javelin.
“It was an experience I will never forget,” said Maggie Frederick, BlazeSports wheelchair track coach and former Dixie Games competitor.
“When I was 23, I had the opportunity to work at Dixie Games. And now I am coaching. It’s a feeling I can’t explain, but I am so happy to be doing what I am doing.”
Frederick said the Dixie Games was a great event and everyone “gave their all.”
The National Junior Disability Championships will be held July 16-23 in Middleton, Wisconsin.
BLAZESPORTS AMERICA HONORED AT INTERNATIONAL DAY OF SPORT FOR DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE
Atlanta (April 18, 2016) – BlazeSports America was honored at the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace (IDSDP), held last week and hosted by the Atlanta Board of the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace, spearheaded by the Audacity Agency. The event celebrated Atlanta’s leaders of sport and social change at the 20th anniversary of the 1996 Summer Olympics. Additional honorees included Randall M. Kessler of Kessler & Solomiany LLC; Jahi Rawlings of the Atlanta Entertainment Basketball League, Field of Dreams Academy and Maisha Land of Gems of GA Dance.
The evening celebration saw inspirational speeches from Stevie Baggs Jr. – former NFL athlete and current Health and Wellness Ambassador of The City of Atlanta, and Parag Shah – Founder of Shaw Law Firm and advocate of “inspiring the inspirers,” or equipping professional athletes with the tools to be agents of change in society. As a result of the gathering, the city of Atlanta issued an official proclamation from the Atlanta City Council in honor of the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace, affirming Georgia’s commitment to recognizing and celebrating the power of sport for social change.
“Being selected as an honoree of the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace meant a lot to BlazeSports America as an organization, because we view sports as a mechanism for empowerment and social change,” said BlazeSports Executive Director Cynthia Frisina. “Furthermore, the event coinciding with the 20th anniversary of the Atlanta Olympic and Paralympic Games was particularly fitting, as BlazeSports America is the legacy organization of those 1996 Summer Paralympic Games.”
The International Day of Sport for Development and Peace (IDSDP) is an annual celebration that highlights and promotes the power of sport as a catalyst for social change in all corners of the world. Since 2014, following a decision by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly, the IDSDP has been celebrated each year on April 6, creating a historical link to the first modern Olympic Games in 1896. This event celebrates the work that is being carried out around the world by the IOC, National Olympic Committees, International and National Sports Federations, sports clubs, governmental and non-governmental organizations, neighborhood associations and all other entities and volunteers who believe that sport is an effective tool for social development.
The Atlanta Board of the International of Sport for Development and Peace and the Audacity Agency is a coalition of local leaders of businesses including law, real estate, marketing and consulting firms coming together to utilize this international platform to make Atlanta a hub or center for study in using sport as a tool for development and peace.
BlazeSports America Receives Grant from Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation for Wheelchair Basketball Program
BLAZESPORTS AMERICA RECEIVES GRANT FROM CHRISTOPHER & DANA REEVE FOUNDATION FOR WHEELCHAIR BASKETBALL PROGRAM
Atlanta (April 20, 2016) – BlazeSports America is proud to announce that it has received a Quality of Life grant from the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation. The award was one of 107 grants totaling over $735,482 awarded by the Reeve Foundation to non-profit organizations nationwide that provide more opportunities, access and daily quality of life for individuals living with paralysis, their families, and caregivers. Conceived by the late Dana Reeve, the program has awarded more than 2,600 grants totaling over $19 million since 1999.
BlazeSports America will use the grant to support its wheelchair basketball program, which includes Varsity and Prep teams of the BlazeSports Atlanta Jr. Hawks. Players range in age from 7 to 17 years old.
“We are honored to be the recipient of this generous grant from the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation,” said BlazeSports Executive Director Cynthia Frisina. “Our BlazeSports Atlanta Jr. Hawks players truly exemplify the positive spirit of world class athletes and make us proud every year.” In fact, the teams have just returned from the 2016 NWBA National Championships where the BlazeSports Atlanta Jr. Hawks Prep Team won 2nd Place and the Varsity team took home 3rd.
“The Reeve Foundation is committed to supporting programs and resources that foster independent living, improved health and community engagement,” said Donna Valente, Director, Quality of Life Grants, Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation. “The recognized grantees are instrumental to our work at the Reeve Foundation as we strive to serve the disability community with a roadmap of resources and programs to enhance their quality of life.”
Awarded twice yearly, grant requests were evaluated and scored based on a rigorous review process to determine funding for organizations that improve daily life for those living with paralysis, as well as their families and caregivers. This cycle, the Reeve Foundation strategically focused on projects that address the needs of people with paralysis living in underserved areas, designated as groups or county or civil divisions in which residents have a shortage of personal health services or face economic, cultural or linguistic barriers to healthcare.
The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation Quality of Life Grants Program was created to address the myriad needs of children and adults living with paralysis, as well as provide assistance and education to their families and caregivers. Funded programs serve individuals living with paralysis caused by injuries, diseases or birth conditions, including but not limited to, stroke, spina bifida, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). The grants support innovative initiatives that aim to increase quality of life by improving physical and emotional health, broadening community engagement, and increasing independence. Quality of Life grants are funded through a cooperative agreement with the Administration for Community Living (cooperative agreement number 90PR3001-01-00).
About the Reeve Foundation
The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation is dedicated to curing spinal cord injury by funding innovative research and improving the quality of life for people living with paralysis through grants, information and advocacy. We meet all 20 of the Better Business Bureau’s standards for charity accountability and hold the BBB’s Charity Seal. The Paralysis Resource Center (PRC) is a program of the Reeve Foundation,and is funded through a cooperative agreement with the Administration for Community Living, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (cooperative agreement number 90PR3001-01-00). For more information, please visit our website at www.ChristopherReeve.org or call 800-539-7309.
U.S. PARALYMPIC HOPEFULS START THEIR GATEWAY TO GOLD
IN ATLANTA ON MAY 21
Registration is Open to Coaches and Athletes for This Free Event!
Atlanta (April 26, 2016) – On Saturday, May 21, athletes with physical and visual disabilities will participate in a Gateway to Gold Experience event in Atlanta hosted by BlazeSports America in conjunction with U.S. Paralympics, a division of the United States Olympic Committee. Kicking off at noon and held at St. Pius X High School in Atlanta, the goal of the event is to introduce individuals with physical disabilities and visual impairments to Paralympic track and field. The Gateway to Gold Experience welcomes track and field coaches as well as athletes, and there is no fee to participate. Registration information is available at www.blazesports.org.
“The U.S. Paralympic Team strives to be the best in the world. But we cannot get to the top of the podium without the help of community partners like BlazeSports America,” said Rick Adams, chief of Paralympic Sport and NGB Organizational Development. “With the help of BlazeSports in hosting this Gateway to Gold Experience, U.S. Paralympics might find the next great Paralympic champion in Atlanta’s backyard.”
The Gateway to Gold Experience will introduce individuals with physical disabilities and visual impairments, including youth, adults and military veterans, to Paralympic sport with hopes of identifying individuals for the athlete pipeline. As a part of the clinic, prospective athletes will be trained on a variety of skills that can help determine their aptitude for Paralympic sport.
“We are thrilled to host the Gateway to Gold Experience,” said BlazeSports America Executive Director Cynthia Frisina. “This event is the U.S. Olympic Committee’s talent identification event for Paralympic track and field for the entire Southeast, so it is quite an honor.”
Gateway to Gold Experience events are being held throughout the country this spring in preparation for the summer Paralympic Games in Rio, Brazil. Registration information for the Atlanta event can be found at www.blazesports.org or by calling 404-270-2000. Participation is free.
About U.S. Paralympics
U.S. Paralympics, a division of the United States Olympic Committee, is dedicated to becoming the world leader in the Paralympic sports movement and to promoting excellence in the lives of persons with physical and visual disabilities. Visit the U.S. Paralympics website at usparalympics.org. Visit the U.S. Paralympics Gateway to Gold website at GatewayToGold.org.