Non-profit launches new adaptive kayaking program in metro Atlanta

There are new opportunities for athletes with physical challenges in metro Atlanta. Catalyst Sports, a local non-profit has launched an adaptive kayaking program.

"Kayaking made accessible for anyone with any physical disability," said Eric Gray, founder of Catalyst Sports.

Catalyst Sports empowers lives through adaptive sports. Thanks to a $35,000 grant from The Hartford, Catalyst Sports was able to buy a variety of kayaks that can be adjusted to fit people with various physical challenges.

"Adjustments that make them extra stable and available for someone who might not have great grip strength or core strength or missing a leg or arm or even visually impaired," said Gray.

As part of the launch, one athlete, Lina Rojas, was surprised with her very own custom-fitted kayak.

"My body is shaking with excitement and gratefulness," said Rojas.

Four years ago, an artery in Lina's head ruptured. When she woke up from surgery she was paralyzed from the neck down. Through lots of hard work and therapy, she is now able to walk with crutches. She said it's been a difficult and challenging four years.  

"Neurophysical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, just learning to walk," said Rojas.

Lina used to be very active in sports, including kayaking, now she's thrilled to be able to do it again.

"Organizations like Catalyst and Move United are helping people and giving us a chance again. I remember in the hospital just asking for a chance to be rehabilitated. Now, we're embarking on new adventures and journeys," said Rojas.

Many who took part in the first day of the Kayaking program have also done Catalyst Sports's other adaptive programs, including rock climbing, cycling and snow skiing.