In Kelly’s Words – The Active Fund is More Important Than Ever
I often say that my favorite day of the year is the Kelly Brush Ride. But a close second is the day in the fall and spring that we do grant review and make decisions about adaptive equipment grants. I am so excited that this fall we had our biggest grant class ever (see our blog about it here), so I thought for this blog I would dive in a bit more on what goes into these decisions and why these grants are so important right now.
Since the founding of the Kelly Brush Foundation our biggest program has always been the Active Fund, our twice annual grant program to help people with spinal cord injuries purchase adaptive sports equipment. This fall we granted $358,000 to 111 individuals. This is incredible!
A couple years ago I wrote a blog about the nuts and bolts of how we make decisions on the grants that come in. To summarize, we ask every applicant to answer questions about their injury, the equipment they want, how they are currently active and why the equipment they are applying for will benefit their life. We also require supporting documents such as a letter of recommendation, medical documentation that they have a spinal cord injury, and financial information. Our Grants Committee, which is made up of adaptive sports industry professionals, former grant recipients, KBF ambassadors, and members of the KBF board of directors, then reviews each of the grants and meets to discuss and make decisions. Both Greg, our program director, and I review all of the grants every cycle.
The stories that we read in these applications bring me back to after my injury and my desire to be active, which was not always easy. For someone without a spinal cord injury, at $75 pair of running shoes or a $300 bike will get them active. For someone with a spinal cord injury, an entry level bike is $2,500, and the equivalent to a pair of hiking boots is $3,500. This disparity and barrier is at the core of what the Kelly Brush Foundation is trying to tackle.
This mission becomes even more important during COVID. A pair of running shoes or hiking boots opens a world of activity up for the able-bodied community. But for adaptive sports there is an entire ecosystem that is set up to provide access to places and activities that a wheelchair won’t take you. Even with some heroic effort and pivoting, a huge part of this ecosystem across the country, including adaptive sports programs, has not been able to provide the same support and programming since COVID hit. Our grants allow people to be active independently, on their own terms, and with their own equipment right out of their garage.
The applications we read for the fall Active Fund reflected just this issue. And because of that we saw a large increase in the requests for this cycle. I’m really excited that we were able to match that demand with our largest grant class ever.
Bottom line: if you supported the Kelly Brush Foundation over the last 6 months, you have supported the dreams, health, and happiness of 111 more people across the country with spinal cord injuries. You are helping them overcome not only the unique challenges facing the spinal cord injury community every day, but also the burden caused by COVID. And you’ve helped put the KBF in a position to continue that momentum into future Active Fund grant cycles in 2021. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.