Paralympic Sport Club Spotlight: Lakeshore Foundation

By Traci Hendrix | April 26, 2013, 10 a.m. (ET)

Lakeshore Foundation located in Birmingham, Ala. has built itself a valiant reputation to provide rehabilitation and comfort to all its patients for over 75 years. What sprouted in 1926 as a tuberculosis sanatorium is now a U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Training Site, and a well-renowned adaptive sport center. With its development from a tuberculosis recovery center into a rehabilitation hospital in 1973, Lakeshore’s growth has been exponential.

Lakeshore Foundation now offers six varying programs within its facility. It supports family health promotion, youth programs from ages 6 to 19, adult recreation, competitive athletics, aquatics and fitness and the Lima Foxtrot program which specifically serves wounded veterans.

Since 2006 and the large influx of wounded service members returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, Lakeshore found itself in demand for more opportunities and services for wounded armed forces.

The Lima Foxtrot program includes programs for veterans with disabilities and opportunities to include their families in activities with them.

To Lakeshore, “Lima Foxtrot represents the spirit of ‘Living Fit,’ which describes the outcomes associated with participation in these programs. Further, Lima Foxtrot reminds us all of what the courage of these men and women means to our daily lives, Liberty and Freedom.”

There are currently six camps Lima Foxtrot runs called operations and are completely free of charge for participants.

These camps include: “Operation Rise & Conquer, an outdoor adventure weekend held at Lake Martin; Operation Down Home, a weekend camp for injured servicemen and women as well as their families; Operation Night Vision, a camp specifically designed for injured troops who have suffered blindness or visual impairment; Operation Alpha for servicemen and women who have sustained traumatic brain injuries; Operation Refocus brings together past participants to look at how participation in Lima Foxtrot shaped their lives once they returned home from Lakeshore and Operation Endurance, which provides daily fitness programs to recently injured military personnel returning home to Alabama.”

What makes Lima Foxtrot stand out is all the amenities it offers veterans with disabilities as well as their families. The Cottages of Lakeshore were built over a 30-month fundraiser from local companies, businesses, fundraisers and multiple donations ultimately funding a $2.3 million homey facility. Recently, the cottages were awarded the LEED certification.

“The LEED certification is verification that the building incorporates strategies aimed at improving performance, increases energy and water efficiency, reduces carbon emissions, thoughtfully utilizes natural resources and improves indoor environmental quality,” according to the Lakeshore Foundation website.

Comfy cottages aren’t the only things Lakeshore Foundation can be proud to be home to; they are also a sanctioned Olympic and Paralympic training site. In 2003, Lakeshore was officially named a training site by the United States Olympic Committee. Its work with Olympians and Paralympians has been unmatched in facility upkeep and athlete contentment.

With the rehabilitation hospital encouraging its wounded veterans to stay active in sports and healthy lifestyles and the introduction to Paralympics program offered by Lima Foxtrot, veterans with disabilities have no excuses to be sedentary. Lima Foxtrot has served over 1,800 injured servicemen and women and their families, from thirty-six states and territories and does not plan on stopping there any time soon.

Disregarding age, professionals at Lakeshore serve more than 4,000 individuals with physical disabilities. Lakeshore meets every critical need for access to exercise and recreation opportunities which cannot be met elsewhere. From a large aquatics center to a rock climbing wall, Lakeshore Foundation indeed meets every need and interest for individuals with disabilities.

“Lakeshore sets a standard in this country and is helping to change the perception of people with disabilities.”