Adaptive Sports Ohio Receives Grant from Disabled Veterans National Foundation

Military veterans have put their lives and their bodies on the line to protect the freedom of all Americans. They’ve put their lives on hold to defend their country and protect the rights of family, friends, neighbors, and strangers. They are the epitome selflessness. Once they leave active duty, however, veterans living with disabilities are more likely to be inactive, socially isolated and have a greater risk of poor health than the non-disabled population. All of these factors can be attributed to environmental and attitudinal barriers, but physical activity through sport can be a difference-maker in the lives of veterans with disabilities. 

Adaptive Sports Ohio was founded to remove barriers to recreation and physical activity by providing local adaptive sport opportunities, costly adaptive equipment and structured, consistent programming. In 2019, Adaptive Sports Ohio opened a satellite office in Warrensville Heights, and launched programming for veterans with physical disabilities after discovering the lack of adaptive sport opportunities for veterans in the Cleveland area. The grant received from the Disabled Veterans National Foundation is helping expand Adaptive Sports Ohio’s outreach efforts and sport opportunities for veterans with disabilities in Northeast Ohio.

Providing an opportunity for injured veterans to engage in physical activity is key to their emotional well-being, especially disability-specific sports that accommodate their “ability” and are more effective than traditional rehabilitation practices. In an article titled Adaptive Sports and Recreation Promote Resilience and Reintegration, Dr. Rory Cooper states, “Sports and fitness are an integral component of the lives of military service-members and are ingrained in the military culture. When a service-member becomes severely wounded, it requires adjusting to a new perception of self as well as altered relationships with others. The building of resilience and successful reintegration, whether remaining in the military or transitioning to civilian life, requires developing physical and psychological adaptive strategies. Sports and recreation are tools that can be very effective in promoting physical and mental health, and for building healthy relationships.” He further stated, “Restoring a healthy perception of self, building strong relationships, learning adaptive strategies, and restoring physical and mental health are essential elements of medical rehabilitation and reintegration. Adaptive sports and recreation promotes the achievement of higher outcomes that far exceed those of traditional rehabilitation practices. Integrating programs and activities that challenge military personnel with debilitating injuries to achieve higher goals, to extend their limits, learn adaptive strategies, encourage teamwork, and to redefine their mission in life have been successful.”

Adaptive Sports Ohio is thrilled for the opportunity to help meet this need in the Cleveland area through the support of the Disabled Veterans National Foundation. Each weekly adaptive sport session is a structured program focused on improving strength, endurance, and sport skill. Through these programs, veterans with disabilities are provided activities that promote physical activity, all adaptive equipment needed to participate, and the camaraderie and acceptance of being surrounded by peers with disabilities.

According to Nathan Collins, one of the many veterans utilizing Adaptive Sports Ohio’s Cleveland programs, adaptive sports not only allow him to play his favorite sport again, and experience the joy it brings him, but he’s gained new friends, and feels that his mental and physical well-being has improved because of adaptive sports.

Joseph VanFonda (USMC Sgt.Maj. Ret.), CEO of the Disabled Veterans National Foundation said, “We’re extremely pleased to partner with the Adaptive Sports Ohio as they continue to remove the barriers for veterans with disabilities so they can participate in these amazing sport opportunities. We expect our grant to increase the number of disabled veterans that have an opportunity to participate.”

These programs are unique and unduplicated and create an opportunity for individuals who are typically sidelined to experience the thrill of sport. By participating in the programs, veterans with disabilities improve their overall social, emotional, and physical well-being. Programs supported by this grant from the Disabled Veterans National Foundation include handcycling, sled hockey, power wheelchair soccer, and wheelchair basketball. For more information about Adaptive Sports Ohio, visit

About the Disabled Veterans National Foundation:

The Disabled Veterans National Foundation exists to provide critically needed support to disabled and at-risk veterans who leave the military wounded – physical or psychologically – after defending our safety and our freedom. DVNF achieves this mission by:

  • Offering direct financial support to veteran organizations that address the unique needs of veterans, and whose mission aligns with that of DVNF.
  • Providing supplemental assistance to homeless and low-income veterans through the Health & Comfort program and various empowerment resources.
  • Providing an online resource database that allows veterans to navigate the complex process of seeking benefits that they are entitled to as a result of their military service, as well as additional resources they need.
  • Serving as a thought leader on critical policy issues within the veteran community and educating the public accordingly.