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.
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.
Spurred by a desire to connect with other adventurers sharing his passion for exploring wilderness territory, Reginald Mitchell began leading hiking trips throughout Georgia and the Southeast. Though he regularly helms mountain-climbing excursions on local slopes such as Kennesaw Mountain and Amicalola Falls, he's also traversed mountains in areas as disparate as Tennessee, California, Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Middle Earth. Sandwiches and trail mix fuel hikers on most tours as they enjoy hiking's numerous health benefits, such as weight loss, endurance building, and stress relief.
Captain Doug loves catching striped bass. Sometimes, he even breaks out a fly-fishing rig to intensify the fight, a practice that would soon deplete the strength of lesser fishermen. But with more than a decade of learning the patterns of striped bass, Captain Doug knows how to find, hook, not get eaten by, and coach clients through landing one of these freshwater leviathans. Now part of the pro staff at Champion Boats, he takes parties out on his 24 Bay Champ boat, supplying anglers with all the equipment they need. Also an enthusiastic trout fisherman, Captain Doug can take anglers out on the Chattahoochee River, or all the way to the Rocky Mountains to catch trophy rainbow, cutthroat, and brown trout in the Snake River and the Green River. Especially memorable catches earn a place in the captain's heart, as well as in his photo album.