A $100,000 grant from Thunderbirds Charities will enable Ability360 Sports & Fitness Center to expand the Breaking Barriers program that provides more than 200 youth and teens with physical and intellectual disabilities the chance to participate in a variety of sports and fitness-related activities.

Breaking Barriers, which began with an $80,000 Thunderbirds Charities grant in 2016, includes a competitive swim team, adaptive kayaking and paddle boarding and indoor and outdoor rock climbing with specialized coaching and instruction in each sport.

 Ability360 will use the new grant to add a weekly teen fitness program to the menu of opportunities and to purchase additional equipment to expand access to the rock wall.

            “Breaking Barriers has been a great success in enhancing our ability to reach more youth and teens with disabilities who may not have otherwise had the opportunity to participate in these types of activities,” said Gus LaZear, Ability360 Sports and Fitness Center Vice President and General Manager.  “The skills they learn from these programs will pay great dividends throughout their lives as they develop their independence. We are truly grateful to Thunderbird Charities for enabling us to make a difference in the lives of these children.”

            Thunderbirds Charities’ association with Ability360 began with a $100,000 contribution toward the capital campaign that helped build the Ability360 Sports & Fitness Center in 2011. The organization followed with a $25,000 grant during the first year of operation to provide adaptive fitness and recreation programs and specialized classes. A second $25,000 grant, in 2013, was used to buy 14 wheelchairs, including 11 all-sport chairs, three power chairs and the accessories needed to convert them into power soccer chairs.

            “Ability360 Sports & Fitness Center is an incredibly unique, progressive and important asset in our community and we are so pleased to be able to support their mission, vision and programs that provide new and expanded opportunities for hundreds of youth and teens,” said Thunderbirds Charities President Andy Markham.

            For more information about Breaking Barriers and Ability360 Sports & Fitness Center, visit www.ability360.org.  For more information about Thunderbirds Charities, visit www.wmphoenixopen.com.