Ashley Thomas on the Power of Adapted Sports for People With Physical Disabilities

Ashley Thomas, Founder & CEO of Bridge II Sports, was interviewed by Adam Torres on Mission Matters Fitness Podcast. 

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Ashley Thomas talks with Mission Matters about setting up an organization, Bridge II Sports, to create opportunities for youth, adults and veterans with disabilities to participate in sports.

What mission matters to you?

“If we find things to be thankful for, it allows life to be much better, and it’s part of what I choose to do every day,” Thomas says. Of her organization, she explains, “Bridge II Sports creates opportunities for youth, adults, and veterans with physical disabilities to play sports—that could be individually on a team, and it can be recreational or competitive.”

How did you get the idea for starting Bridge II Sports?

Recalling her early days, she shares, “I volunteered and worked at the local hospital, in the spina bifida community and the children’s hospital. I began discovering how I could be active (while using) a wheelchair, and it became the tool that empowered me to be a part of life.” 

She trained herself through adaptive conferences, which she credits for helping her get Bridge II Sports in place. “The world is never perfect and you never have all you need, but it’s not a reason to not start,” she says. “Each one of us matters. We can make a difference in the world that we’re in by how we behave and how we extend kindness and grace.”

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Tell us about the Bridge II Sports programs.

“We run year-round sports,” Thomas notes, ranging from archery, air rifle and boccia to golf, kayaking and wheelchair basketball. “Another unique thing about us is that we work with different types of physical disabilities,” she continues. “We have large visual impairment, low vision, and visually impaired individuals, along with people with spina bifida, spinal cord injury, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, and stroke.”

Of the range of programs and activities, Thomas says, “we also do cycling, and it’s probably our most diverse group because we have tandem cycles for blind and low vision along with the low riders—that’s the group that are in haines cycles—and we also have uprights that may be amputees.” 

The breadth of offerings, she says, is part of the organization’s widespread appeal; there’s really something for everyone. 

Tell us about your 360 Club and how people can get involved in it.

“Our 360 Club is our monthly donor support,” Thomas explains. “The club helps the organization provide scholarships to individuals and get the needed equipment. Anyone can contribute to the club with a minimum of $30.” The “360,” she says, is a nod to the club’s annual commitment and holistic approach, as well as a reference to the wheels often involved in adaptive sports. 

To learn more, visit Bridge II Sports online.