From BIIS Founder and Executive Director Ashley Thomas:
In the hustle and bustle of daily living, there are things that earn our affections and emotional attachments because their service was so much a part of our success; serving faithfully through many demanding times, and simply becoming accustomed to the companionship over years of service. Common things that comes to mind, perhaps is a favorite cup with a saying that cheered the soul, having held endless cups of coffee or tea, comforting the soul with each sip. Maybe it is a soft toy, or blanket that went off to college from childhood, and still sits in the closet on the top shelf. For others it was a faithful animal that knew how to comfort in time of need, greeted you at the door when you arrive waiting to obey your lead.
For us at Bridge II Sports, it is that vehicle that took on the partnership role, becoming an integral part of the work, impacting tens of thousands in the world of adapted sports throughout North Carolina and beyond. It is our truck, lovingly called Ol’ Blue.
When BIIS started in 2007, there was nothing but a thought in my head to try to make a difference. My 2005 Chrysler van drove over 150,000 miles in the first 5 years of BIIS. Fiona and I would challenge ourselves to see how many sports chairs we could stack in the back. I think our record was 10 chairs, two bags of basketballs, first aid kit, tire pump, tool kit, trophies and one driver.
Wheelchair basketball was in full swing with two youth programs and one adult program. Cycling was growing with hand cycles, tandems, and uprights. In total, 11 adapted sports year-round. Outreach to schools, companies, and organizations where disability awareness was taught through adapted sports. Growth continued. We needed Ol’ Blue when he arrived in 2012!
Ol’ Blue had a former life, but came without dents, rust, and a clean inside. It was purchased through a fundraiser from a hardship with one of our athletes Nolan. Since 2012, Ol’ Blue has traveled another 150,000 miles, serving so many, gently carrying precious cargo in the back or pulling a loaded trailer.
Since that time Ol’ Blue has:
- Criss-crossed the state and southeast with a bed and trailer full of sport chairs and equipment so people could play.
- Delivered track and field equipment for Racing Rams track meets and clinics across the state.
- Hauled cycles of all types to the American Tobacco Trail and beyond serving those using tandems, hand cycles, or uprights to enjoy the freedom of cycling.
- Outreached to colleges around the state for adapted sports workshops educating the next generation
- Created change in the minds and attitudes of young people by visiting elementary and middle schools around the state for EveryBODYPlaysNC Awareness Days.
- Ol’ Blue has been there for all of our events year after year without fail: NC Pro Am, August Madness, Valor Games Southeast, Paddle! Lake Crabtree, Hog Wild, Winter Classic, …
- Transported an accessible playhouse to a school in the mountains where one was needed.
- Drove to wheelchair basketball tournaments in Georgia, Alabama, Virginia and all over North Carolina so our youth athletes could experience the intensity and camaraderie of competition.
- Made ALL our programs possible by getting gear to Lake Crabtree for fishing and kayaking at the most accessible dock in the country, tennis clinics around the state with Karin Korb, out to Burlington for archery with the Guilford Bowhunters and the Durham Pistol and Rifle Club for air rifle, weekly wheelchair basketball practice in Raleigh, golf at Hillandale, and on and on.
- Giving us the opportunity to show many groups what we do with visits to Camp Carefree, Maple where we hosted the US Team and the Netherlands national team, Triangle Amputee Group, multiple Veterans Affairs across the state, Endless Sports
- Heading to the mountains of West Jefferson to get wreaths for our fundraisers
- Even helping out around the office by picking up furniture from Duke Surplus
Mile after mile after mile…changing lives.
With 94% of our youth going on to College or Tech School; 8 athletes (2 Veterans) honoring us being National Team members and countless individuals both with and without disabilities transformed by the power of adapted sports every trip was worth it!
We could not have done this without the faithful service of Ol’ Blue. This truck is one of the most valued members of our team. Ol’ Blue is getting up there in years and mileage and needs to stick closer to home these days. We need a younger, less road traveled truck.
If not, OUR IMPACT IS LIMITED.
Please join us this giving season in supporting our efforts to get a new truck through a generous donation. We know a truck may not seem like a big thing but it is EVERYTHING to the continuation of our programs and impact in North Carolina and beyond.
Thank you for helping us in one of the most tangible and meaningful ways ever to change lives and challenge perceptions of disabilities.
Building the Bridge together,