Adapted Fitness Open House

Today is the 6th Annual Adapted Fitness Open House! Due to current circumstances, we are excited to be able to host the open house entirely online—features can be accessed through the Adapted Fitness Canvas page as well as through the links below. This year’s open house is dedicated to the Conways. The program would like to thank Michael and Ginny Conway for their gracious donation to the program which has given Adapted Fitness the means to offer a Graduate Fellowship to Kecia Doyle Greene as well as the ability to build a new Adapted Fitness gym in the new Natatorium when it is built. Thank you Michael and Ginny!


Adapted Fitness is a very special program within the department on Kinesiology directed by Tim Gattenby. The program was developed 35 years ago with the inspiration of people throughout his life. In high school, Tim suffered a life-altering injury and was told by one of his doctor’s that he would never be the same again. Angry at the comment, Tim refused to let his hopes be dashed, instead taking an interest in people with diverse abilities. Tim came to realize that “diversity in ability is something to celebrate and to express and to make the most of”, and he has made it his mission to help others understand the same. Please check out Tim’s Open House Address to hear him speak more about all of the others that motivated him to create the program, as well as the people who motivate him today!

The annual open house is a time for celebrating the program’s amazing clients and the things they have been able to accomplish. Each year, Tim presents the Kurt Christensen award and the Jeff Schram award to two of his clients and while he regrets not being able to give the awards in person, he would like their contributions to the program to be highlighted.

The Kurt Christensen award is an inspirational award named after a participant in the program who brought his unique personality to the program, and embodied living by unlimited possibilities even after a car accident left him a quadriplegic. Once a year, Adapted Fitness inducts an individual from the program who personifies the qualities of “living without limitations”, who has a passion for learning, as well as educating, and is an advocate for others—regardless of ability. This year, the award is being presented to Dustin Palenshus who is always helping people within the program. Read more about Dustin here. Congratulations, Dustin! While this award is typically given once a year, but one other individual stood out as incredibly deserving of the award. Therefore, Tim has decided to award the 2020 Kurt Christensen inspirational award to Georgia Kaftan. Read more about Georgia here. Congratulations, Georgia!

The Jeff Schram award is another inspirational award named after a previous participant who the program nicknamed “the bounce back guy” who through a series of complications and varying abilities was always able to maintain a positive attitude and worked hard on his fitness. Jeff Schram’s hard work and determination was always and inspiration to Tim and the students who knew him. Once a year, Adapted Fitness recognizes one individual who exemplifies strength under adversity, courage at working towards higher goals, and inspires us through his or her example. This year, the award is being presented to David Adams who has been involved with the program even prior to becoming a client and is one of the hardest working individuals in the program’s history. Read more about David here. Congratulations, David!

Check out this video to see some of the incredible things that clients and students have been able to do together this year, leaving the perception of limitations behind! You also won’t want to miss this super cool rap video. The performance and lyrics are by one of the awesome Adapted Fitness clients, David Helman — aka “Less Heavy D”. The program is very lucky to have had some really incredible clients and students- both of which benefit tremendously from the relationships they build and the experiences they share together.

While we are unable to gather to celebrate these amazing things together, we are incredibly grateful for all of the people who have participated in this program and would like to thank you for joining us in our first ever online celebration!