Access to adventure

Those with disabilities to be closer to outdoor activities

Members of Colorado Discover Ability gather near the Colorado Riverfront Trail at Las Colonias Park. The group has raised more than half the goal of $460,000 to build a new headquarters at the site, which will put members closer to their outdoor activities.

If a person with disabilities wants to go on a bike ride, the process could take days.

The folks at Colorado Discover Ability must assemble a bike to fit that person’s specifications. The bike is loaded on a trailer and shuttled down to the Colorado Riverfront Trail. The rider must get to the trail, too.

Now, it’s time to ride. Let’s hope the weather holds.

Rafting trips take even more time to coordinate — work that could take up to a week or more.

By situating their operations near the action, Discover Ability hopes to break ground in the new year on new headquarters, a 4,400-square-foot building literally right off Colorado Riverfront Trail bike path.

Colorado Discover Ability helps those with disabilities gain more independence by getting them outside, participating in outdoor adventures.

The group currently operates out of 740 Gunnison Ave., sharing space with the Center for Independence.

The new center will be within sight of a boat launch to the Colorado River. The city of Grand Junction even placed curb access to the paved path to be within steps of the new building’s front door.

The group secured the land through a $1 annual lease from the city. Discover Ability members organized with workers from local companies to clear the site of an old building. It is east of the playground and a secondary parking lot at Las Colonias Park.

“When we say we can get you out the door on an adaptive bike, we mean out the door,” said Terry Harper, executive director of Colorado Discover Ability. “This will reduce the time, literally to minutes. For raft trips, the lead time might be a day or less.”

Harper said the group is more than halfway to a fundraising goal of $460,000 to create their new building. The Boettcher Foundation recently awarded the group a $25,000 grant.

Andy Blood, the executive director of the Blood Brothers Foundation, said his group also may contribute $200,000 to help create the adaptive center. The foundation provides financial support to modify vehicles for individuals with physical disabilities.

Blood said he would like to expand the scope of the center to include a kitchen and opportunities to attract people from around Colorado’s Western Slope to gain access to the outdoors with adaptive equipment.

“This would be the main spot for everybody to schedule trips and give people a chance to feel that feeling of freedom and living to the fullest,” Blood said.

With a new center, Harper said the agency would be able to serve 10 to 20 times as many people.

Colorado Discover Ability Program Director Julie Mauch said a new home base will allow people to access the outdoors more regularly and easily, and having it located prominently off the popular bike path will go a long way toward ensuring people with disabilities aren’t “invisible.”

“This central meeting place can foster independence and community,” she said.

For information on Colorado Discover Ability and its programs, visit its website at


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