This month’s spotlight is Kurtis Usher from Virginia! Kurtis is a 2023 recipient of a Try It First Grant. After Kurtis applied to the Active Fund for an offroad handcycle, our grant committee wanted to provide him the opportunity to try out more equipment options to make sure he could find his perfect fit. Kurtis used his $500 grant to travel to the Fall Fest at the Bakers Creek preserve in Knoxville, TN to try out some adaptive mountain bikes with Catalyst Sports.

As a result of a successful Try It First experience, Kurtis has applied for the Spring 2024 Active Fund cycle for one bike that really stood out to him. “I originally applied for a completely different bike the first time I applied to KBF,” says Kurtis. However, after having the opportunity to first-hand experience different styles of offroad handcycles, he decided that a recumbent style bike suits his needs better than the prone-style bike he initially applied for. The offroad handcycle that Kurtis landed on will provide him the versatility to meet his needs, saying “if I am going to go through a multiple-year process to obtain such a fine piece of machinery, I should treat myself a little.”

Kurtis’ Try It First experience ended up providing more than just an opportunity to try out equipment. “After test riding the bike for an hour or two,” he explains, “I was approached by someone at Catalyst Sports asking if I wanted to participate in the race. I agreed and ended up getting 3rd,” he says. “I had a few moments where I forgot I was paralyzed, I was just riding.”

Through this process, Kurtis is on a mission to help other people gain the same level of access and confidence by going through the process of fundraising, applying to grants, and connecting with people in the broader community. “Being confined to a wheeled chair isn’t all that fun, and it’s even less fun when you’re unable to traverse places that normally wouldn’t be a problem for anyone on a normal bike, or just walking,” he says. The KBF is so excited to support Kurtis’ off-road handcycling journey with a Spring 2024 Active Fund grant!