BlazeSports America History

The spirit lives on in BlazeSports – the Legacy of the 1996 Atlanta Paralympic Games, and Member of the US Olympic Committee Multi-Sport Organizations Council.
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Our Mission – Changing the lives of children and youth, adults and veterans with physical disabilities through adaptive sport and recreation.

Participation in sport is the vehicle to improved health and quality of life, increased self-esteem, greater independence, improved school performance and employment readiness, and ultimately a more inclusive society.

At BlazeSports, we’re driven by a desire to provide all children and adults with physical disabilities the chance to play sports and live healthy, active lives.

BlazeSports provides a variety of sport and recreation programs for kids, teens and veterans with physical challenges. We provide athletes with training, support and the opportunity to increase independence and improve health. Whether you want to compete on a team, try something new, stay fit and healthy or meet new friends our programs have something for everyone.

BlazeSports America provides a variety of sport and recreation programs for kids and teens with physical challenges. In 20 years BlazeSports America has touched the lives of more than 975,000 people world wide with more than 21,000,000 hours of programming and adaptive sports leadership. Since 2000 BlazeSports America has trained more than 8,500 students, practitioners, teachers, coaches and therapists, helping more than 100,000 people with physical disabilities become more physically active and participate in sports and recreation.

BlazeSports America Milestones

1996

  • The first year there was an Olympic Games and Paralympic Games – Atlanta Georgia, The first year Paralympic Games were held on US Soil.
  • US Disabled Athletes Fund was formed out of the 1996 Games by the Atlanta Paralympic Organizing Committee with additional funding by the Shepherd Family –  “BlazeSports” was the program name emphasizing the public recognition and value associated withthe mascot of the 1996 Paralympic Games, “Blaze”. The Blaze Mascot was also “born this year” – one of the few Paralympic mascots to endure past the Games themselves
  • The tagline “Triumph of the Human Spirit” was created and introduced.
  • Blaze license tag initiative commemorating the 1996 Paralympic Games launched

1997

  • Operational plan implemented and launch

1998

  • BlazeSports Summer Camp launched in Roosevelt Warm Springs, GA
  • Georgia Recreation Park Association and BlazeSports partner to create more opportunities for kids with physical disabilities

1999

  • Our first wheelchair basketball program began
  • First annual BlazeSports Education Conference and Seminar

2000

  • Adaptive Sports programs and teams launched (wheelchair basketball, swimming, track and field)

2001

  • Partnership with National Recreation and Park Association formed as precursor to launching BlazeSports Network
  • Sports programming expanded to wheelchair rugby, swimming, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair tennis, and track and field.

2002

  • BlazeSports Club Network was launched

2003

  • Hosted National Disability Sports Conference

2004

  • BlazeSports Club Network continues to grow

2005

  • BlazeSports introduces equipment loan program

2006

  • The US Disabled Athletes Fund was rebranded as BlazeSports America
  • “BlazeDays in the Schools” program introduced

2007

  • BlazeSports America starts international work in Egypt
  • African Academy of Disability Sport Festival for Women and Girls (Cairo, Egypt)
  • The BlazeSports Network  grew to 63 clubs around the US providing over 1.4 million hours of service to over 65,000 participants.
  • Opened an Office of Sport Policy and Advocacy in Washington DC
  • BlazeSports America and US Paralympics developed partnership creating athlete development, training, education, program and technical assistance.
  • BlazeSports Institute for Applied Sciences was launched
  • BlazeSports America became the National Governing Body of USA Boccia
  • 137 Sports Clinics and 35 Camps conducted
  • BlazeSports America hosts US Paralympic Track and Field National Championships
  • BlazeSports America becomes US member of CPISRA, founding member of the IPC
  • One of only 2500 nonprofit organizations to receive the “Best in America” seal from Independent Charities of America

2008

  • BlazeSports begins serving US Veterans
  • First BlazeSports bus was purchased to transport athletes and veterans to adaptive sports programs and competitions
  • BlazeSports expands to South Africa training community leaders and teachers in adaptive sport and recreation
  • BlazeSports hosts 2008 US Boccia National Championships
  • BlazeSports publishes the “Legend of Blaze” storybook
  • BlazeSports Athletes participate and Officials serve in Bejing 2008 Paralympics

2009

  • BlazeSports TV Learning Channel launched
  • Created the Georgia Coalition for the Health Advancement of Military through Paralympic Sports
  •  TorchRunner ™ press launched to publish creative works with messages of triumph, empowerment and possibility through Sport – “How Haitians Play Basketball” and “Ricky Played”
  • Launched BlazeSports Active for Life Toolkit
  • BlazeSports America – one of 35 national organizations named to the United States Olympic Committee Multi-Sport Council

2010

  • Certified Disability Sports Specialist (CDSS) national certification and training for adaptive sports professionals launched at our 10th Annual BlazeSports National Conference on Disability Sport and Therapeutic Recreation
  • One of 10 national organizations selected by the US Department of Health and Human Services to provide national technical assistance on adaptive sports and physical activity to schools and communities across the US.
  • BlazeSports launches humanitarian effort for earthquake relief in Haiti – “Sport for Social Change”
  • BlazeSports introduces “First Work” and youth leadership initiative
  • BlazeSports employee and former Paralympian, Ann Cody, participated in the Paralympic Torch Relay in Vancouver, British Columbia

2011

  • BlazeSports delivers Sport for Social Change training in Jordan, Russia and Haiti
  • BlazeSports Wheelchair Basketball Prep team wins National Championship

2012

  • Launched the “Roosevelt Games” Paralympic style sports competition designed specifically for veterans and active duty military personnel in honor of FDR.
  • Gained US Paralympic Sport Club Gold Level DesignationBlazeSports Athletes compete in London Games
  • BlazeSports named as a model program in First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move Initiative”

2013

  • BlazeSports introduces adaptive rock climbing program
  • BlazeSports hosts Haiti Disability Sports Festival
  • BlazeSports launches Georgia Disability Sport Awards
  • BlazeSports launches Blazetec.org – online CDSS curriculum

2014

  • VA Soccer/Paralympic Soccer launched – “From Battlefield to Soccer Field”
  • BlazeSports launches “Sports for All” initiative in Brazil
  • BlazeSports launches Sports for Human Rights initiative for PE teachers and girls in the MiddleEast
  • BlazeSports launches Boccia Veterans initiative
  • BlazeSports holds ASTECC National Conference (Adapted Sports Training Education and Certification) in Atlanta o BlazeSports introduces adaptive kayaking program

2015

  • BlazeSports launches Boots to Birdies Adaptive Golf program for veterans and active duty personnel
  • BlazeSports launches Girls with Bows archery and empowerment
  • BlazeSports generates over 70 media placements in TV, radio and print generating more than 5 million media impressions
  • BlazeSports moves to new headquarters in April of 2015
  • BlazeSports introduces new tagline “Adaptive Sports. Changing Lives.”
  • Atlanta Hawks sponsor our Youth Wheelchair Basketball team – the BlazeSports Jr. Atlanta Hawks
  • BlazeSports named the beneficiary of the Atlanta Santa Speedo Run
  • Atlanta Track Club names BlazeSports America as the Kilometer Kids Partner of the Year
  • BlazeSports Wheelchair Jr. Basketball team wins fourth National championship
  • BlazeSports launches the “Triumph of the Human Spirit” Awards
  • BlazeSports becomes Disabled Sports USA chapter
  • BlazeSports establishes relationships with military Forts in Georgia (Gordon, Stewart, Benning)

2016

  • 20th anniversary of BlazeSports America

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