Flourishing Families Resource Guide for Families with Special Needs 2019

Page 18

T I H T I W G N I L ROL Local Athletes Prove Life on

Emily Dolton

Wheels Has No Boundaries

Riley Phelps

A single look at freshman Riley Phelps’ activity schedule is exhausting. Whether she’s hitting the slopes in Mammoth with Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra (with brother Evan snowboarding by her side), surfing the waves in La Jolla, or cheering on the Chieftains as part of the Clairemont High School Cheer Team, you can bet she will not be idle in 2019. Riley’s mom, Cheryl, doesn’t consider afterschool programs to be exclusively for typical kids, so when cheer tryouts came around, Riley just rolled on in. Now she cheers at home games as a member of the varsity squad. Riley practices with a 1:1 aide after school, who also helps her perform in high school plays. Without Riley’s extracurricular endeavors, she was often seen as the little blonde girl in the purple wheelchair. “We constantly hear, ‘I didn’t know she can do that,’” says Cheryl. “It increases awareness of Riley’s abilities.” Riley’s dad Drew, an avid outdoorsman, connects with both kids through surfing and skiing, which also keep the family in top physical shape. “Riley maintains a vast social network online until she can rekindle those relationships at events,” says Drew. “Every organization brings new friends. We get to know the parents and Evan gets to know the siblings.” Families connect through various programs to build a network of support for their athletes. Riley’s parents decided early on that in order for both kids to enjoy the best of San Diego, they were going to need the right equipment. Riley is one of many kids supported by the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF), which provides grants for adaptive sports equipment, including her big-wheeled beach chair, adaptive surfboard and a special three-wheeled bicycle. Riley and Evan regularly participate in fun runs for CAF and fundraisers that provide equipment for Riley and other athletes to participate in sports programs in San Diego County.

18 • SNRFSD.org • SanDiegofamily.com • flourishing families 2019

Angelo “Tigershark” Sanchez

Ten-year-old Angelo “Tigershark” Sanchez is an off-road beast who nabbed a national record in the 1,500-meter race in his everyday chair. He is one of only two pediatric wheelchair athletes to compete in the Spartan Kid Races: tough, muddy obstacle competitions that challenge kids to use every muscle to complete them. He has finished three and earned the coveted Trifecta. Angelo has benefitted from grants from Challenged Athletes Foundation and Kelly Brush Foundation — both have helped provide specialized equipment so he could compete. The nickname Tigershark emerged after Angelo insisted he felt just as much at home in the water (shark) as on the land (tiger). The Life Rolls On and Stoked for Life Foundations have