Homer's Independent Living Center has been awarded a $7,500 grant from a foundation created by former Superman actor Christopher Reeve, who was paralyzed after a fall during an equestrian competition in 1995.
The Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation announced the Quality of Life Grant earlier this month. In all, the foundation awarded almost $780,000 in grants to 126 organizations nationwide as part of the Quality of Life Program's 2004 funding cycle.
The grants are awarded to programs or projects that improve the well being of people living with paralysis, particularly spinal cord injuries, according to an Independent Living Center press release.
Dana Reeve, the actor's wife and director of the foundation, said this year's grants marked the first time the organization has been able to award so much in one cycle.
"When we first launched the program, I was thrilled to be able to award 20 nonprofit organizations," she said. "I never imagined that within five years we would be able to fund over 125 groups."
The center intends to use the grant money to purchase "Terra-Trek" wheelchairs capable of rolling off-road, allowing users to enjoy more of the recreational opportunities on the Kenai Peninsula. The machines are manually operated, but can be easily pushed over rugged terrain. They can be configured for trekking, hunting or fishing.
"There are hundreds of miles of trails on the peninsula that are not accessible in a normal everyday wheelchair," said center accessibility expert Jim Brady. "This grant will allow us to open many miles of those trails to resident wheelchair users and the ever-growing number of wheelchair using visitors to the peninsula. We are pleased and honored to be chosen for this award."
The chairs will be made available for a nominal fee to both residents and visitors to the peninsula. The chairs will be located in the Soldotna and Homer offices of the Independent Living Center.
The center is dedicated to providing services that allow people with disabilities to live productive, vital lives in their own homes and in their communities.
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