ABC Medical’s Seeds of Hope takes root in California

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Friday, January 18, 2019

SAN DIEGO – San Diego State University (SDSU) has become the first college in California to offer an adaptive sports program, thanks in large part to the Seeds of Hope Initiative. 

Inspired by the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, Exton, Pa.-based ABC Medical started Seeds of Hope in 2016 to develop competitive adaptive sports programs at universities across the country. Out of more than 1,000 colleges with athletic programs, only 21 schools offer adaptive sports programs and/or intramural clubs.

"There are about 30,000 kids doing adaptive athletics in high school and then another 30,000 kids below high school age," said Keith Jones, chairman of ABC Medical's board of directors, who spearheaded the project. "Unless you're a top athlete, there's just not a lot of options for you."

Michelle Cross, SDSU’s first, official student-athlete in adaptive track and field, says she chose to attend the college mainly for its adaptive sports program.

"I love it. It's definitely a challenge for me," said Cross, who has cerebral palsy. "I'm in the weight room three times a week and my coach is making me do exercises to build up my right arm." 

Cross is training for and hopes to compete in the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo.

So far, SDSU has one track and field and three wheelchair tennis athletes. The school hopes to add aquatics and wheelchair basketball to its offerings, as well as recruit more student-athletes by spreading the word at high school competitions and events. 

"We're hoping to get a lot of kids from California, because until now they had to go out of state to (compete) in college," said Jones.

Universities with adaptive sports programs have two things going for them, says Lisa Wells, vice president of marketing at Cure Medical. 

"If schools want to stand out as being progressive on social issues, as well as a leader in sports programs, then adding adaptive sports is the way to go to improve and expand on their community reputation," she said.