Arizona Bridge to Independent Living Announces Opening of the Virginia G. Piper Sports and Fitness Center

Arizona Bridge to Independent Living (ABIL), Arizona’s largest center for independent living serving people with disabilities, is pleased to announce the opening of the Virginia G. Piper Sports & Fitness Center for Persons with Disabilities. The facility will open for business beginning Monday, Oct. 31. There will be a grand opening celebration in February 2012.

The Sports & Fitness Center, commissioned by ABIL, will create a sense of well-being and also encourages physical fitness and nutritional health for individuals with disabilities and their families.

The Sports & Fitness Center is co-located on the Disability Empowerment Center campus at 5025 E. Washington Ave. in Phoenix. It is designed to bring together people of all ages with physical disabilities and/or chronic health conditions to encourage wellness, physical fitness and nutritional health.

According to Amber Blanchard, manager of the Sports & Fitness Center, the facility will feature a wide variety of sports, fitness and aquatic programs.

“We are so excited to bring this unique facility to the Phoenix area and to offer such an expansive array of programs for people with disabilities in our community,” said Blanchard. “We have known for a long time that a center like this has been needed and we are so pleased to see it happening. There really is no other place that offers equal and accessible fitness capabilities in a non-medical environment.”

The 45,000-square-foot sports, fitness and aquatic center will be the first of its kind in the Western United States. The center will also accommodate fitness, health and wellness programs. It features spacious and accessible sports courts, indoor track, lap pool, therapy pool and spa, fitness/training equipment, locker rooms, showers and dressing areas for people with physical and sensory disabilities.

Among the expected offerings are adaptive rowing, sports programs, nutrition education, recreation programs, wheelchair basketball, fitness/ wellness classes, yoga, aquatic programs, quad rugby and power soccer.

Phil Pangrazio, president & CEO of ABIL, was one of the original believers that such a facility could serve the Phoenix area. He adds “the center is a dream come true for so many of us who have a disability but yet continue to live productive meaningful lives. And while I am very proud of the Center, I am equally excited about the amazing team we have put together to run the facility. Each has unique qualifications and experiences that will benefit our consumers.”

Memberships are available on an annual, monthly or daily rate. Early membership rates are available; for more information please visit or call 602-386-4566.

Arizona Bridge to Independent Living ( offers and promotes programs designed to empower people with disabilities to take personal responsibility so that they may achieve or continue independent lifestyles within the community. The independent living philosophy states that people with disabilities should have the same civil rights, options, and control over choices in their own lives as do people without disabilities. 602-256-2245.

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