This past June, the Spreetail for Good Giving Initiative was launched to give team members the opportunity to pitch projects or ideas to help nonprofits. More than fifteen local nonprofits nominated received a portion of a $500,000 donation. The goal of the initiative was for every team member to have a voice in our community efforts, so I immediately began developing my proposal to donate to the Junior Wheelchair Camp and Nebraska Adaptive Sports.
Junior Wheelchair Sports & Recreation Camp and Nebraska Adaptative Sports are two nonprofits that partner together to provide athletic opportunities for disabled children and adults. I have personally witnessed these amazing organizations in action. My little brother was born with Spina Bifida, meaning his spinal cord failed to develop properly in the womb. Joe has limited muscles in his legs and no feeling below his ankles. Growing up, he knew he was different than the other kids. It was my job as his big sister to show the other kids that even though his legs didn’t work, he was still a normal kid like them. He just did things a little differently but that never slowed him down.
Joe started attending Junior Wheelchair Camp when he was 5 years old. He was introduced to many different types of adaptive sports like basketball, tennis, track, fencing, archery, and softball. There are many benefits associated with participating in wheelchair athletics including aerobic and muscle-building activities, helping build self-esteem, creating life-long friendships, traveling around the US to play different teams, and the opportunity to receive college scholarships (according to Nebraska Adaptive Sports website).
I have been volunteering at Junior Wheelchair Camp for 12 years. Over these years, I have seen campers advance in their athletic careers. One camper found her love in fencing and competed in several national competitions. She is now fighting her way to compete in the 2024 Summer Paralympics in Paris. Many other campers have received scholarships to play wheelchair basketball in college. NAS sponsors a junior wheelchair basketball team, The Red Dawgs, and an adult team in Lincoln called the Madonna Magic. These teams participate in games and tournaments all over the country. These opportunities would not have been possible if these athletes weren’t introduced to these sports at camp. I am continuously amazed by the hard-work and dedication my campers have demonstrated throughout the years showing their passion in adaptive sports. After graduating high school, many campers return to camp to share their passion and inspire young campers to follow their dreams as well.
I nominated Junior Wheelchair Camp and Nebraska Adaptive Sports for the Spreetail for Good Giving Initiative because budgets for camp were getting tighter and tighter each year. The camp is free for the children and relies on sponsorships and donations from the communities. Transportation to the camp is provided at no cost to the families. However, due to the rising cost of fuel and bus rentals, they have had to limit pickup locations which has caused children to miss camp. Over the 12 years of volunteering I noticed a decrease in campers, yet I know there are so many children in this area who would benefit from this opportunity. These two non-profit organizations have made such a huge impact on these children’s lives, I want to continue to see NAS provide athletic opportunities and for Junior Wheelchair Camp to flourish!
I’m excited to share that my Spreetail for Good Giving Initiative nomination was reviewed by an advisory board and $15,000 was donated to Nebraska Adaptive Sports and Junior Wheelchair Camp. These funds will help purchase new sports wheelchairs for athletes, which can cost upwards of $3000 and need replaced on average every 3 years. However, we aren’t stopping there. In October, every Spreetailer has the opportunity to help raise an additional $15,000. By team members logging workouts, Spreetail will donate an additional $10/per hour our employees are active over the next month.
My intention is to bring awareness to these opportunities for disabled children and adults. We are constantly seeking new campers between the ages 5 through high school for Junior Wheelchair Camp. Youth with cerebral palsy, polio, spinal cord injury, spina bifida, and lower leg amputation qualify to attend. We need to spread the word about Junior Wheelchair Sports and Recreation Camp and Nebraska Adaptive Sports to find kids and families who would benefit from these life changing experiences. For opportunity to be a volunteer or attend a Nebraska Adaptive Sports fundraising events check out the links below!
To learn more about the camper qualifications or volunteering opportunities, check out https://nebraskaadaptivesports.org/youth-wheelchair-sports-camp/.
For more information on NAS and their fundraising events, visit https://nebraskaadaptivesports.org/.