CSU, Chico News

Walking for Kids Foundation Makes Major Donation to Ability First Sports Camp

Date: 02-09-2011

Kathleen McPartland
Public Affairs
Chuck Nadeau
Development Director
Ability First Sports

**This news release reflects a change in the place, due to rain, for the presentation by DJ Gregory.**

Cerebral palsy hasn’t kept D.J. Gregory from accomplishing great things. In fact, it has enabled him to be a model of courage and vision to millions. Gregory is best known to followers of the PGA Golf Tour for walking every round and every hole of the tour in 2008—988 miles and 3,256 holes. He is visiting Chico on Tuesday, Feb. 15, to present a major gift to Ability First Youth Sports Camp at California State University, Chico. The presentation will take place at 1 p.m. in the lobby of Yolo Hall.

Last year Gregory visited the Ability First camp, a summer camp for kids with physical disabilities. He met with the kids, told his story, taught two rounds of golf and fell in love with the camp and the kids. “He said he had a foundation, Walking for Kids, and would like to raise money for us this year,” said Chuck Nadeau, development director for Ability First Sports Camp. “I've heard this tons of times. But when he called us a few weeks ago, letting us know he wanted to present us a check for $26,000, I fell out of my chair. He’s just a super generous human being.”

Ability First at CSU, Chico is celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2011. Each summer, the camp serves up to 38 youth with physical disabilities, including cerebral palsy, brittle bone disease, spina bifida, spinal cord injury and muscular dystrophy. The camp serves not only children from Butte County and the North State, but from Southern California, Oregon, Washington and even someone from Canada last year.

“When California shifted its budget last year,” said Nadeau, “it wiped out almost all of our funds. We did a huge ‘Push for a Cause’ letter-writing campaign last year that raised more than $30,000 to continue camp. This year we are continuing with that with the help of a matching donor. The gift from D.J. will make a huge difference in our ability to fund the program.”

Ability First runs for one week every summer on the CSU, Chico campus. This summer it will run June 19-25. Campers stay in Lassen Hall and have activities in both gyms, on the ropes course, the climbing wall and on the playing fields. The program has served more than 700 youth since its inception and is one of only a few residential sports camps in the United States.

The staff consists primarily of students enrolled in the Departments of Therapeutic Recreation and Adaptive Physical Education at CSU, Chico. It provides them with a unique opportunity to apply theoretical concepts in a residential camp setting.

“When all we hear in the news is how bad the economy is, budget cuts and programs folding, it's inspiring to hear DJ's story,” said Nadeau. “With just the simple act of walking—with tremendous effort, hundreds of miles a year—he is creating opportunities for youth all across the U.S.”

In addition to presenting the check at the 1 p.m. ceremony, Gregory is available for interviews at other times on Feb. 15. He is eager to spread his story and would like to talk to people about what Ability First means for the children of Butte County.

For more information, you can call Nadeau at 530-588-0335 or e-mail him at chuck@abilityfirstsports.org.