Thunderbirds Charities’ $100,000 Grant Will Expand Ability360’s Breaking Barriers Program For Youth And Teens With Disabilities

PHOENIX, Ariz. (Jan. 18, 2017): A $100,000 grant from Thunderbirds Charities will enable Ability360 Sports & Fitness Center to expand the Breaking Barriers program that provides more than 200 youth and teens with physical and intellectual disabilities the chance to participate in a variety of sports and fitness-related activities.

Breaking Barriers, which began with an $80,000 Thunderbirds Charities grant in 2016, includes a competitive swim team, adaptive kayaking and paddle boarding and indoor and outdoor rock climbing with specialized coaching and instruction in each sport.

Ability360 will use the new grant to add a weekly teen fitness program to the menu of opportunities and to purchase additional equipment to expand access to the rock wall.

“Breaking Barriers has been a great success in enhancing our ability to reach more youth and teens with disabilities who may not have otherwise had the opportunity to participate in these types of activities,” said Gus LaZear, Ability360 Sports and Fitness Center Vice President and General Manager. “The skills they learn from these programs will pay great dividends throughout their lives as they develop their independence. We are truly grateful to Thunderbird Charities for enabling us to make a difference in the lives of these children.”

Thunderbirds Charities’ association with Ability360 began with a $100,000 contribution toward the capital campaign that helped build the Ability360 Sports & Fitness Center in 2011. The organization followed with a $25,000 grant during the first year of operation to provide adaptive fitness and recreation programs and specialized classes. A second $25,000 grant, in 2013, was used to buy 14 wheelchairs, including 11 all-sport chairs, three power chairs and the accessories needed to convert them into power soccer chairs.

“Ability360 Sports & Fitness Center is an incredibly unique, progressive and important asset in our community and we are so pleased to be able to support their mission, vision and programs that provide new and expanded opportunities for hundreds of youth and teens,” said Thunderbirds Charities President Andy Markham.

For more information about Breaking Barriers and Ability360 Sports & Fitness Center, visit For more information about Thunderbirds Charities, visit


ABOUT ABILITY360: Ability360 continues a 35-year tradition of empowering programs for people with all disabilities. Ability360 offers and promotes programs to empower people with disabilities to take personal responsibility so that they may achieve or continue independent lifestyles within the community. The independent living philosophy states that people with disabilities should have the same civil rights, options, and control over choices in their own lives as do people without disabilities. Ability360 is located at 5025 E. Washington St. Ste. 200, Phoenix, AZ 85034,, 602-256-2245.

ABOUT THE ABILITY360 SPORTS & FITNESS CENTER: The Ability360 Sports and Fitness Center is a 45,000-square foot, state-of-the-art facility located in Phoenix, Arizona. Owned and operated by Ability360, the Sports & Fitness Center offers a wide variety of amenities to help you achieve your health and fitness goals including a fitness center with wheelchair accessible weight machines, an aquatic area equipped with lifts and elevators, accessible locker rooms, and more.

About Thunderbirds Charities

Thunderbirds Charities is a non-profit organization formed in 1986 to distribute monies raised through the Waste Management Phoenix Open golf tournament. The Thunderbirds Charities Board consists of 15 board members from varying professional backgrounds. The mission of Thunderbirds Charities is to assist children and families, help people in need and improve the quality of life in our communities. The organization’s giving is directed toward organizations based or with a significant presence in Arizona. For more information on Thunderbirds Charities or the Waste Management Phoenix Open, visit or call the Thunderbirds office at (602) 870-0163.