For Berks County resident Chris Kaag, the mission behind his nonprofit foundation, IM ABLE, is simple: To change attitudes about the potential of disabled individuals by redefining what is possible.
This mission is one that is near and dear to Kaag’s heart for many poignant reasons. A father and Marine Corps veteran whose career was cut short due to a nerve condition, he spent time in a Baltimore hospital as part of his recovery process.
While in therapy, he encountered many children with special needs whose circumstances inspired him to help in any way that he was able. “I wanted to give kids the opportunity to live a normal childhood,” he said.
The IM ABLE Foundation provides adaptive equipment, such as hand bikes, for children suffering from various disabilities. Kaag shared the story of a 5-year-old boy named Jordan, who was the very first recipient of an adaptive bike from IM ABLE…but the bike was only the beginning.
“I invited 30 other 1st grade kids to ride bikes with him,” Kaag said, noting the importance of children being able to use the equipment IM ABLE provides to experience normal childhood activities with their friends.
In addition to providing essential adaptive equipment, IM ABLE also empowers children with disabilities by hosting fitness classes, where children from all walks of life can come together to socialize and work out together.
While noting that the ongoing pandemic has certainly changed the format of many of these functions, Kaag shared that he was very proud of his team of volunteers’ ability to adapt to the current circumstances. “[One of the ways] we have overcome this has been by doing Zoom classes, and providing 40 tabletop cycles for kids,” he said.
Unfortunately, the pandemic caused the cancellation of the IM ABLE Foundation’s fundraising events in 2020: the “IM ABLE Bash”, Got the Nerve? Triathlon, and the RU Able Duathlon. However, Kaag optimistically shared that they are looking ahead to hopefully being able to schedule more fundraising events in 2021.
“I want to show everybody where their money is going. It’s not going into some phantom fund; you can see and meet the people that your money helped,” he said, while citing his gratitude for the IM ABLE Foundations many volunteers, that range from Alvernia University Occupational Therapy students, to community volunteers.
To donate, volunteer, or find out more information, visit imablefoundation.org. The Foundation has recently moved to its new location at 901 Hill Avenue, Building 17, Wyomissing, Pennsylvania.