The Daemen College Center for Allied and Unified Sport and Exercise (CAUSE) has been awarded grants totaling more than $315,000, including from the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, to enhance its programming and other efforts designed to promote the well-being of children, youth, and young adults with disabilities.
Daemen CAUSE is a transformative experience for individuals with disabilities, students, and student-athletes. The initiative provides opportunities for individuals with disabilities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, and experience the camaraderie and sportsmanship that comes with athletic participation.
With the support of the foundation community, Daemen CAUSE will be able to expand its reach and depth of programming by increasing capacity with a full-time director, additional sport sampling programs, online database development, increased community partnerships, and creative expansion.
The largest of recent funding received is a three-year $220,000 grant from the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation. Other awards include a first time award of $66,000 over two years from the Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Foundation; a $25,000 grant from The Children’s Guild Foundation, bringing the total to $50,000 in grants received from the foundation over the past two years; a $3,000 award from the Buffalo Bills Foundation, the third year of funding; and a $2,500 grant from Wegmans Food Markets, the second year of funding.
“These grants will greatly assist in building on the success of the CAUSE initiative and enable us to increase access to high quality unified sport and exercise provided to participants,” said Kristen Luppino-Gholston, director of the Paul A. Saffrin Center for Sustainability and Civic Engagement, which oversees Daemen CAUSE. “We are deeply grateful for the generous funding from each of these foundations and for their belief in CAUSE’s efforts in our community.”
Since it was launched in 2017, CAUSE has served more than 100 WNY families through its sport sampling sessions, which offer participants the opportunity to compete in different sporting activities. The demand for sport sampling sessions has rapidly increased, leading to a more robust schedule for this academic year. Approximately 60 community participants take part in sport sampling sessions each week.
Closely aligned with Daemen’s NCAA Division II athletics program, CAUSE draws on the strengths of Daemen Athletics, academic service learning, and the social work and applied behavior analysis programs. Students and student-athletes are paired with participants to serve as teammates and to provide peer support, giving participants strong individual attention. More than 3,000 service learning hours annually is devoted to CAUSE’s efforts.
Ultimately, the goal is for CAUSE to become a central regional resource for programs designed to promote unified sport and recreation.
“Looking ahead, it is our hope to establish CAUSE as a hub for improved resource sharing and professional development among new and existing providers in the community,” said Luppino-Gholston, adding there is great potential for CAUSE to serve as a model for schools collaborating with local support agencies.