Skiing. Snowboarding. Canoeing. Rock climbing. Horseback riding. To someone with a physical disability, activities like these might seem impossible. Yet Eric Gray, founder of Catalyst Sports, has taught disabled individuals how to perform each one?plus a few others. At Catalyst, Eric and his team empower people to not only overcome physical disabilities, but also to thrive with them.
The organization provides unique recreational opportunities to individuals of all ages and ability levels, including adaptive rock climbing programs. In fact, Catalyst has grown into the largest such adaptive climbing program in the country. It has done so, in large part, by hosting frequent events and fundraisers, which are far better ways to raise money than playing the same Roman numerals in the lottery every week.
With their jagged ridges, multicolored faces, and thousands of holds affixed seemingly at random, the rock walls at Stone Summit look like cubist installations large enough to fill a small warehouse. Follow any series of holds up to the top of these expressionist monuments, though, and scores of individual routes emerge, offering challenges for everyone from entry-level beginners to the most seasoned scaler. Climbers can seek out the tops of routes as high as 60 feet off the facility floor, and bouldering enthusiasts have an entire room filled with near-horizontal overhangs and brain-teasing bouldering problems perfect for studying for the rock-climbing portion of the SAT. The facility complements its climbing focus with a range of non-climbing exercise opportunities, including treadmills, weight machines, and yoga classes.
BADASS Dash’s organizers live in a world of imagination. Where others see cargo nets, they see giant webs to be scaled. School buses become climbing walls and bales of hay turn into tunnels filled with grass and mud. In city after city, they place 30+ of these obstacles along a 7-kilometer course, and invite individuals and teams to compete against each other in elite matches, or beat their personal best in recreational races. Afterward, the organizers throw a celebratory bash filled with bonfires, food, and prizes for top finishers. A portion of the proceeds goes to benefit the charity Autism Speaks.
Appalachian Wilderness Guides leads avid adventurers on Mother Nature explorations and mountainous hikes. Teaming with northern Georgia wineries, the wine-tasting trek whisks vino-lovers through Georgia vineyards, helmed by a tour guide and including a palate-pleasing tasting with accompanying snacks. For the wide-eyed wilderness warrior, the family camping trip provides one night of mind-melding with the outdoors in a provided tent with sleeping bags. Start with a brisk day hike, and then finish with a campfire to nibble on hot dogs, hamburgers, and marshmallows. Along the way, Appalachian Wilderness Guides participate as little or as much as you like, meaning its leaders can leave after setting up the tent or stay to tell campfire stories about the Supreme Court justices who are lurking in the woods. All guides of the uneven grounds are certified in wilderness first-aid, CPR, and Leave No Trace Outdoors Ethics, ensuring the safe removal of unnecessary waste.
Peace & Piece helps students unlock hidden talents and discover their passion for science, writing, and technology with fun, engaging enrichment programs and summer classes. Rather than boring children with the endless parroting of information or actual talking parrots, afterschool studies and classes challenge kids with creative exercises and blend learning with hands-on exercises and play. Little scientists get a head start on developing useful STEM skills with summer camps full of model building, moviemaking, and robotics, or they hone nascent novel-writing skills with creative-writing exercises.
During the Superhero Scramble, racers of all fitness levels tear across arduous terrain littered with body- and mind-challenging obstacles. Participants must wade through mud and, to reach the finish line, persevere through a barrage of Super Slime generously donated by retired Ghostbusters.
Upon completing the race, athletes ride their endorphin high into a party stocked with ice-cold beer. There, they can mingle with other contestants, sway to live music, and see awards doled out to the fastest runners in each age bracket. Male and female Scramble Gamble contestants compete for prizes that can cover the cost of replacing the engines in their sneakers. The benefits of the race extend beyond the Gamble winners, too?the organizers donate a portion of the proceeds to charity.