Despite isolation, Sportable keeping athletes active

Despite isolation, Sportable keeping athletes active

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT)- Many non-profits have been hit hard by the coronavirus crisis, and that includes Sportable in Richmond, an organization centered on adaptive sports. No matter what the sport may be, Sportable has had athletes with disabilities in Central Virginia covered since 2005.

"It's a big program," said executive director Hunter Leemon. "It's been unusually quiet in the office."

It's been a strange couple of weeks since the organization has suspended its programs temporarily, but just because basketballs remain on the shelves, chairs are still and arenas are quiet doesn't mean that Sportable is slowing down.

"We've been trying to make some of the content a little bit lighter, just so it's not constantly virus talk all the time and how long we're going to be cooped up together," added Leemon.

One example is a contest the organization launched on Monday, the Coast 2 Coast Challenge. Athletes, supporters and fans can choose to put in miles to Virginia Beach, Panama City or Malibu. This is all virtual, of course, as they'll compete to see who can hit miles equal to the distance from the Sportable main office to those cities. Some will put the miles in on wheelchairs, others on cycles, or whatever equipment they choose.

“They’ve got just under two months to log those miles and we put up leaderboards,” said an excited Leemon. “It becomes a challenge, not only among our athletes but among volunteers, fans...”

Those categories of people are all relationships valued by Sportable, and Leemon and his staff have been reaching out with regular phone calls since coronavirus caused the chaos. It means a lot to many that the group checks in to make sure they are okay.

"There's an appreciation that you're checking in," Leemon said. "Some of the conversations are a minute or two minutes, 'hey, thanks so much, appreciate the call.' Some of them turn into 30-40 minute conversations."

Like many, Leemon is eager to return to being able to see his athletes compete. But he’s also looking forward to society getting back to normal when he can simply shake his neighbor’s hand.

"I'm very thankful that people are very anxious for our mission to kind of get back on track and us to be back out on the field and in the pool. I'm just hopeful that we'll all get through this together and we'll be stronger. I don't know exactly what it's going to look like, nobody does, but I'm confident we'll get out and be stronger and that's all that matters."

For more information on how you can become involved with Sportable, or learn more about how you can help, click here.

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