December 14, 2019 9 AM-2.30 PM at the Palm Desert Civic Center Park Benefiting Desert Ability Center www.desertabilitycenter.org. 760-674-7073.  NO LEGS.  NO PROBLEM.

It all began with a family outing 2014 to the Palm Desert Civic Center Park to attend what was then called the DisAbility Sports Festival – Coachella Valley.  The festival was designed to introduce adaptive sports and recreational rehabilitation activities to children and adults living with disabilities.   Damian, a congenital double amputee, would experience sports like he had never experienced before and the rest, as they say, was history.

As the largest minority population in the world, people with disabilities are routinely overlooked and underserved as if their wheelchair or prosthesis deemed them incapable of active and productive lives. Nowhere is this truer than the clear absence of sport and recreational activities for those who live with a disability.

Desert Ability Center (DAC), a local nonprofit serving people with disabilities, was founded on the belief that our children and youth with disabilities belong on courts and in the fray of competition alongside their friends and peers. 

To this end DAC created opportunities for engagement that provided access to the proper equipment that allowed them to “get in the game.”  The most notable of these opportunities is their annual Ability Festival. 

Now in its 8th year, the Ability Festival introduces 30 adaptive sports and recreational activities to people of all ages and any level of ability.  The Ability Festival is, for some, where their athletic career begins.  It is the place where their parents have the opportunity to see just what their child with spina bifida or missing limbs can do when given the chance.  But mostly it is a place where you know you belong, unconditionally.

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Damian, shy and unsure, drank feverishly of the fountain of sports Desert Ability Center offered that day and went on to discover so much more. He found a place where he was accepted unconditionally.  He met people with similar disabilities and challenges.  He found his voice and became the poster child for the joy in mobility and the value of adaptive sports.    He would advance over the years from a youth handcycle trike to the racing cycle he currently rides with DAC adult riders today.  He would discover karate and wheelchair tennis and anxiously waits for the launch of wheelchair basketball in 2020. 

DAC develops its programs grounded the belief of Nelson Mandela that “Sport has the power to change the world.  It has the power to inspire.  It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does.”

Come see what it means to play adaptive sports and be a part of your community on December 14 at the Palm Desert Civic Center Park. Comes and discover the abilities of people who not only live with but thrive in spite of having a disability.

This one-day free events will give our youth and adults with disabilities the opportunity to try adaptive sports they never thought possible and meet DAC athletes and Paralympic coaches. It gives our high school and college athletes an opportunity to play alongside their athletic peers in wheelchairs. It will open the eyes of the community to a world of possibilities.

Registration for the Ability Festival is available online at www.desertabilitycenter.org. DAC invites everyBODY to come “Show Us What You’re Made of.”  And remember, bring a friend.

Judy May is the Executive Director of Desert Ability Center.

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