Colorado Clothing Donations Help Fund Adaptive Athletes
Did you know? When you recycle unwanted clothing, shoes and household textiles in your neighborhood ATRS donation bin, you’re supporting one of over 20 different charitable organizations across the country. For Colorado residents, this charity is the Colorado Avalanche Sled Hockey Team (CSH). Here’s how this local organization benefits from the ATRS Clothing & Shoe Recycling Partnership:
The CSH “Lil Avs” youth team and their coaches in front of an ATRS Recycler.
Corey Fairbanks is the Executive Director of Colorado Adaptive Sports Foundation (CASF) and a huge advocate for sports for athletes with disabilities. Corey played football at the University of Nebraska before surviving a skiing injury that paralyzed him below the chest. Shortly after, Corey began playing sled hockey, a passion he continued for 17 years.
“You can take the sport away from an athlete, but you can never take an athlete out of the human spirit,” he explains.
Corey credits his “competitive juices” for motivating his speedy recovery and inspiring a new passion for sled hockey. CSH was founded in 1995 by Corey and four other men meeting to play pick-up games on Wednesday mornings, playing with old or donated equipment. It grew into the five-sport umbrella organization that CASF is today.
Although Corey was an able-bodied athlete who discovered sled hockey after his injury, CSH attracts many athletes who were born with disabilities as well. In fact, that was the reason behind Corey’s decision to expand CSH. “I wanted to give kids who were born with disabilities the opportunity to get out there and compete and understand the thrill of competition.”
Colorado Avalanche Sled Hockey players at practice. Photo courtesy of The Denver Post.
CSH receives grants and other funding, but its largest source of revenue comes from the ATRS Clothing & Shoe Recycling Partnership. ATRS pays CSH the fair market value for all items donated into bins featuring their distinctive “hockey sticks” logo (find a bin here). So the more pounds of clothing & shoes donated, the more money CSH receives for local programs. This funding provides training space and equipment to National Championship finalists and winning teams, from the Lil Avs youth league to the adult Colorado Avalanche Sled Hockey players. Here’s hoping CSH retains its championship status at the 2016 Disabled Hockey Festival!
Aside from winning championships, CSH helps adaptive athletes to build lifelong bonds. Pierce Grandchamp is an athlete who has spina bifida and was one of the original CSH youth players. He now serves as a junior coach for the next generation of sled hockey stars. Pierce was also part of the 2015 National Championship team. “It’s a testament to how strong the program is and how much it’s influenced his life,” said Corey. “Now he’s able to give back.”
Pierce on the rink with Corey’s son, Owen. Owen is an able-bodied hockey player, but is learning to play sled hockey as well.
As Corey says: “In my personal opinion, adaptive athletes are ten times better than able-bodied athletes. They have to overcome disability and succeed as athletes at the same time.” We at ATRS couldn’t be prouder to serve this group of amazing individuals and look forward to many more years of our partnership together.