Disabled Sports USA was established in 1967 to improve the lives of veterans and the differently-abled of all ages through sports and recreation. In addition to cycling, over 50 different sports are offered, including alpine and Nordic skiing, snowboarding, biathlon, kayaking, water skiing, sailing, scuba, surfing, rafting, outrigger canoeing, fishing, hiking, golf, athletics, archery, running/wheeling, rock climbing, equestrian and others.
Disabled Sports USA
serves those with visual impairments, amputations, spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, head injury, cerebral palsy, other neuromuscular/orthopedic conditions, autism and related intellectual disabilities.
The sports opportunities that Disabled Sports USA provides are transformational for participants, highlighting the human potential embodied in the organization’s motto: “If I can do this, I can do anything!”
Headquartered on historic Boat House Row, The Pennsylvania Center for Adapted Sports is the local to Philly chapter of Disabled Sports USA, and Jeff McGinnis is the Executive Director. I asked him a few questions to learn more.
PBE What did you do before this?
JM I’ve been involved in sports for people with disabilities for over 30 years, and have founded a few programs.
PBE Did you have any particular education/training/experience that prepared you for your current position at PA Center for Adapted Sports?
JM Prior to becoming the Executive Director, I was a furniture maker and owned a small visual and product design company. But my parallel track was volunteering as a coach or trainer in sports for people with disabilities.
My initial experience was in college, working with some kids in a swim program. After graduation, I continued staying involved through volunteer work. I began coaching in adaptive rowing, then in skiing. When Fairmount Park closed MLK to car traffic on weekends, we (PA Center for Adapted Sports) were able to start our cycling program. The cycling program has expanded to three locations. By the way, we are always looking for volunteers to share their love of cycling with people with disabilities!
PBE What’s your favorite part of your job?
JMA couple of things. Our amazing volunteers, our incredible participants, and athletes who refuse to take no for an answer. Generally, people who refuse to go with the status quo. There would be no adapted sports for people if someone hadn’t refused to accept the conventional wisdom about what people with a disability could or should do. It still happens, but that’s what gets me inspired, breaking down the barriers to participation in our community.
PBE What inspires you?
JM Seeing someone learn to ride with us, and then progress to riding independently.
PBE What’s your favorite ride/route/destination?
I commute by bike almost daily. I love my commute, it uses part of the Schuylkill trail.