Roswell resident Lisa Simmons, president of Sandy Springs-based Beacon Management Services, plans to hike one of the most famous trails in the world to raise funds for disabled children and veterans.
The beneficiary is BlazeSports America, a national nonprofit which empowers children and adults with physical disabilities through sports programs, such as wheelchair athletics.
On her epic Grand Canyon hike, scheduled for Aug. 22 and 23 in Arizona, Simmons will leave from the North Kaibab Trail on the North Rim, challenging her personal limits as she descends 15 miles and 6,000 feet to the bottom of the canyon.
Simmons will cross the Colorado River before connecting with the Bright Angel Trail and climbing 4,500 feet and 9.6 miles back out again to the South Rim.
“It is a distance of 25 miles and has an incline I estimate at 30 to 40 percent, and I plan to do it in a day and a half,” said Simmons, who has been training for this event for six months.
Simmons said she hopes to raise as much money as possible for BlazeSports and has set a goal of raising, at the very minimum, $11,000 before she leaves on the hike but doesn’t want to stop there.
“Although my goal is $11,000, I am hoping to well surpass that for BlazeSports,” she said. “One hundred percent of all donations will be used to purchase new wheelchair and track equipment, as well as support athletic programs for participants with disabilities, including young people and veterans.”
Donations may be made online now and even after Simmons completes her hike by visiting http://bit.ly/2uLcdxR.
“Adapting wheelchairs and track chairs for competition costs anywhere from $3,000 to $4,000,” said Cynthia Frisina, executive director of BlazeSports America. “We help bring the power of sport to young people and veterans who could not otherwise afford to participate in our programs.”
Since the organization’s start in 1996 following the Atlanta Paralympic Games, more than 1 million people have been reached worldwide with over 21 million hours of adaptive sports programming and leadership. These athletes suffer from such diseases or injuries as spina bifida, spinal cord or traumatic brain injury, cerebral palsy, dwarfism, amputations, spina bifida and visual impairments, among others.
Frisina said with over 54 million people with disabilities in America, it is more important than ever to work toward leveling the playing field and providing more opportunities for our local children and our military veterans to become physically active and participate in sports and recreation activities.
“Community support around the kind of unique initiative that Lisa Simmons is undertaking will help make it possible to provide adaptive sports opportunities and adaptive sports equipment so that more people with disabilities can participate,” she said. “Since adaptive equipment like a sports wheelchair or handcycle can cost more than $3,000, lack of access to equipment can be a major barrier to participation.
“Lisa’s fantastic effort will help BlazeSports America to be able to offer programs for children and veterans with disabilities like wheelchair basketball, track and field, cycling, archery, swimming and much more.”
Simmons said the individuals with disabilities who compete in these sports programs “symbolize the power of the human spirit to prevail over any circumstance.”
“Donating to this effort means that you will provide young people and adults with physical challenges the chance to play sports and live healthy, active lives and I plan to make this hike an annual event,” she said.
For more information about BlazeSports or Beacon, visit www.beaconmanagementservices.com.