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Midvale Journal

Wasatch Adaptive Sports creates new Murray office to better serve area residents with physical limitations

Oct 04, 2018 01:48PM ● By Jana Klopsch

Hand cycles like this cost up to $3,000 but Wasatch Adaptive Sports provides free use of them. (Carl Fauver/City Journals)

By Carl Fauver | carlf@mycityjournals.com

The non-profit Wasatch Adaptive Sports (WAS) program has been going strong here in northern Utah – providing a wide variety of recreational opportunities for people with physical limitations – since 1977. But until last month, WAS has never had an office here in the Salt Lake Valley.

Until now, the organization’s only office, or “headquarters,” has been up at Snowbird ski resort.

“We got our start at Snowbird providing winter sports opportunities, skiing and snowboarding,” Wasatch Adaptive Sports founder Peter Mandler said. “That was sufficient for decades, until we added our summer activities and now that is growing quickly.”

Mandler launched WAS while working as a ski instructor at Snowbird. The organization’s success on the mountain has grown to where, last year, WAS provided about 3,600 ski and snowboard lessons.

By comparison, it was just four years ago when Wasatch Adaptive Sports began to offer a variety of summer activities. And the explosion of success on that side of the operation – through participation growth – prompted WAS to establish its first Salt Lake Valley location in Murray.

Last month, Wasatch Adaptive Sports leased a 5,000-square-foot space – including a huge, 2,000-square-foot garage area to stow all their equipment – on Winchester Street (417 West 6400 South).

“We chose this Murray location for three primary reasons,” said WAS Executive Director Elizabeth Jahp. “First, it is very near a Trax station, making it easier for our clients to get here. Second, it is very close to one of the places where we host recumbent bicycle activities twice a week (Winchester Park, along the Jordan River, less than a mile west of the new office). And third, perhaps most important, Murray is centrally located in the Salt Lake Valley so everyone should be able to get here fairly easily.”

Wasatch Adaptive Sports Development Director Abbie Sauter believes it’s a good move and maybe a little overdue.

“This space will be so valuable for our clients who want to meet with us, so they don’t have to go all the way up to our Snowbird offices,” she said. “This is a great location to coordinate activity lessons and to meet new people. Now if a family wants to come see the kind of recreation equipment and opportunities WAS provides, they can get here easily.”

As a practical matter, the new Wasatch Adaptive Sports location has allowed the non-profit to also vacate several storage units it has kept full of equipment.

“We hope this move can help generate at least a five percent growth in our number of participants,” said WAS Operations Coordinator Laura Benson. “I coordinate the lessons we offer and I know it will be easier and more efficient to do that out of this new location.”

People with a wide variety of physical limitations participate in Wasatch Adaptive Sports events. The organization’s primary summer activities down here in the valley include: bike riding, paddle boarding and (inflatable) kayaking. Additionally, WAS has expanded its summer offerings in the mountains to include hiking and fishing.

One of the things Mandler takes the most pride in is the strong assessment protocol WAS employs to determine exactly what physical abilities each client has, in order to connect them with the proper equipment to give them the most positive experience.

“We work closely with PTs (physical therapists) and OTs (occupational therapists) to make accurate assessments, because those are the most important things we can do for our clients,” he said. “Very few programs across the country are as thorough as we are, at making sure we know what our clients’ needs are and how best to serve them.”

One of those clients, Phil Yorgason of Midvale, has allowed Wasatch Adaptive Sports to guide his outdoor recreation strategy for nearly half of the 55 years he has been alive.

“I began with (WAS) in the winter of 1992-93 at Snowbird,” Yorgason said. “Then, just last summer, I decided to try paddle boarding and hand cycling. For me, getting involved with them was literally a life-changing experience. I was born with spina bifida and didn’t think I could do anything athletic until they showed me I could.”

In the year-and-a-half since he began hand cycling, Yorgason has completed a 26.2-mile marathon course one time and a 52.4-mile “double marathon” course, another.

“This new location for their office will be a big help to me because I don’t have a car, but can ride Trax,” he concluded.

Wasatch Adaptive Sports executives are quick to add that several donors have also assisted with their new location:

Home Depot – provided $7,500 in supplies and labor to install racks for more than 60 bikes and other equipment.

Concrete Floor and Design – provided $2,500 worth of product to epoxy seal the warehouse floor to make it safer. 

Iron Horse Concrete & Construction – as WAS landlord at their new location, waived charges for first and last month’s rent.

Additionally, 21st Yoga provides WAS clients with exercise space, for yet another of their activities. And Snowbird continues to be the organization’s primary donor, for equipment, office space and other things. 

Learn more about WAS at  HYPERLINK "http://www.wasatchadaptivesports.org" wasatchadaptivesports.org.