There are ways to measure joy, at least there is a way at RISE Adaptive Sports in the Dallas area. It is measured not in feet or yards, but in smiles, those of its participants and their families.
RISE is an acronym for Recover, Inspire, Succeed and Empower, and it is a program designed to assist those with any number of physical challenges — from amputees to those with spinal cord injuries, from kids to adults — by offering adaptive recreational sports programs. It was exactly the type of community group that the Jordan Spieth Family Foundation was hoping to support when they established Youth with Special Needs as a philanthropic pillar.
The activities, 16 in all, range from wheelchair rugby to parasailing to tubing and water skiing.
“It’s a fun charity,” Carol Kyer, executive director of RISE, said. “Usually people who come out with us, they leave with a smile as do their families and friends. It’s intentionally called recreational therapy. It helps them not only in physical aspects, but they tend to have drawn into themselves and RISE helps people come out of their shells.
“They know they can come out and just be themselves. We see the person and not the disability, whether they’re in a wheelchair, have a walker or are missing a limb.”
RISE, a nonprofit charitable organization, is among the beneficiaries of the Jordan Spieth Family Foundation. It is free to participants and their friends and families and thus depends on the benevolence of others to sustain its programs.
We fell in love with RISE Program on paper, and even more so after seeing them first-hand. Within our short time, we saw a young lady who had traveled hours by car with her family to spend time doing adaptive water skiing. She was thrilled to be there, and clearly this program is doing more for her than recreation; it’s giving her an outlet to enjoy life, sports and community like every person should have the right to do.
“We’re so excited,” Kyer said of the relationship with the Spieth Family foundation. “I met Christine [Spieth, Jordan’s mother]. She came and toured our facility a month-and-a-half ago. She’s such a sweet lady. She got to see first-hand what we do here.
“And we’re so excited because of Jordan’s dedication to his family, his sister [Ellie] and his interest in helping people find their true potential even if they have a disability.”
Besides the aforementioned programs, RISE offers basketball, boating, fishing, knee-boarding, sit volleyball, hand cycling, indoor soccer, kayaking, power soccer, swimming and wheelchair skate.
The latter is a way for those confined to a wheelchair to enjoy skateboarding, of sorts. “A wheelchair is more or less their skateboard,” Kyer said, “and they’re going up ramps, down into the wells, all the same stuff that skateboarders do.”
The benefits to RISE participants extend beyond its programs, too. “Spina bifida kids,” Kyer said, “can go back to school and talk to their friends and say they went out on the lake water skiing. ‘No way,’ [their friends say]. ‘Yeah, we have pictures.’
“Water sports are probably our most popular. It’s something the family can all do together. We can put a family of four on a tube and we have a blast.”
As do those who RISE is serving.
The Jordan Spieth Family Foundation is honored to partner with RISE to support inclusiveness, adaptive sports and promoting a message of ABILITIES!