An eMagazine about wheelchair-accessible events, sports & locations in Arizona

The Virginia G Piper Sports & Fitness Center is Open

In terms of whats news in the world of the disabled community and Arizona, it does not get much bigger than the opening of the Virginia G Piper Sports & Fitness Center for Persons with Disabilities (SpoFit).

The SpoFit is one of two centers in the U.S. that is specifically designed for people with disabilities.  It features two full-size basketball courts, an indoor suspended jogging track, climbing wall, fitness center and three pools.  The center is designed for the public to enjoy and also to serve as a venue for national and international sporting events.  In December, the center will be hosting it’s first Wounded Warrior event for newly disabled veterans.

The center will be home to the Phoenix Heat wheelchair rugby team, who’s roster includes numerous gold-medal Paralympians, and the Banner Phoenix Suns and Mercury wheelchair basketball teams ( The basketball courts have a both 10′ and 8′ hoops to allow youths to play more competitive basketball.

One of the main attractions for competitive sports is the venue’s lockers, bathrooms and team equipment facilities.  Every space is designed to accommodate many athletes in wheelchairs at one time.  The showers are all accessible.  Not just a few, all of them.  As is the locker area and spectator seating.  For team sports, the venue has a basement that will be quartered off to allow teams to lock up their sports chairs and equipment.

Amber Blanchard is the manager of the SpoFit.  She was most recently the therapeutic recreation program coordinator at The Bend Park and Recreation District in Bend, Oregon, and program director/ board member at Oregon Adaptive Sports.  She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Therapeutic Recreation from the University of Arkansas. She is a current member of the National Recreation and Parks Association (N.R.P.A.) and National Therapeutic Recreation Society (N.T.R.S), Arizona Therapeutic Recreation Association (ASTRA), and has been Nationally Certified in Therapeutic Recreation for over a decade.

Fitness Manager, Gabe Gerbic tries out the 35' indoor rock wall.

The fitness center is on the second floor.  The center has two elevators.  The spacious work-out center includes an all-accessible line of Cybex weight-training and aerobic equipment. Gabe Gerbic is the fitness manager.  He has a B.S. in Exercise Science/Exercise Physiology and a Masters in Physical Education with an emphasis in exercise physiology.

The SpoFit opened for business in late October,  The grand opening ceremony will be in February, 2012.  The 3-day event will feature key-note speaker, Anthony Robles, the Arizona State University alumni who in spite of being an amputee became the NCAA wrestling champion at 125lbs.

The center is open 6 days a week.  Adults pay $35/month or $5.00/visit. Scholarships are available.  Visit the center at

 [Ed note: author is affiliated with ABIL and the SpoFit]

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What Acessing Arizona Is All About

Accessing Arizona is primarily designed for people who are looking for wheelchair accessible events, locations and activities. If you have paralysis (paraplegic or quadriplegic), Muscular Dystrophy, Spinal Bifida, or if you are an amputee, Accessing Arizona has information about an active lifestyle.
If you are traveling to Phoenix, Tucson, Flagstaff, Sedona or the Grand Canyon, the site offers insight about the accessibility. We cover trails, lakes, state parks, national parks and just about anything claiming to be handicapped accessible. The site also covers sports and recreation in Arizona.
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