Daemen College launched this fall a new comprehensive initiative that aims to provide recreational and competitive athletic opportunities for persons with disabilities. Named the Daemen College Center for Allied and Unified Sport and Exercise (CAUSE), the center’s goal is to help facilitate physical fitness of participants while giving them the opportunity to experience the camaraderie and sportsmanship that comes with athletics participation.

Daemen Athletics developed CAUSE in collaboration with the college’s Social Work and Special Education Departments to address the need for both recreational activities and caregiver support for the disabled community in Western New York. It is being funded by the Buffalo Bills Foundation and the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Legacy Funds at the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo, and The Margaret L. Wendt Foundation.

Allied and Unified Sport programs, which are developing all across the country, are completely inclusive and provide disabled persons an equal opportunity to participate in recreational and competitive athletics alongside their non-disabled peers. Participants in CAUSE are paired with Daemen students, student-athletes, faculty, and coaches to engage in activities that promote sport, exercise, and socialization.

“We are proud to establish the CAUSE program at Daemen, and thank the Buffalo Bills Foundation, the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo, and The Margaret L. Wendt Foundation for their generous funding of this endeavor,” said Daemen President Gary A. Olson. “This new initiative is creating unique opportunities for our students, faculty, and staff to share their passion for sport and exercise while making a positive impact in the lives of persons with disabilities throughout Western New York.”

Open to participants of all ages, CAUSE programming runs every Sunday from 2 to 4 p.m. in Daemen’s Academic and Wellness Center (AWC) at 4433 Main St., located across the street from the college’s main campus in Amherst. The AWC, which underwent a $5.6 million renovation before opening in 2015, includes instructional space, a gymnasium, and a fitness center.

A second CAUSE program runs on Thursday evenings and is specifically focused on providing opportunities for young adults with disabilities.

In addition to the athletic opportunities provided with programming for CAUSE participants, primary caregivers are invited to enjoy time to themselves, socialize with other caregivers, or have free use of Daemen’s fitness center.

“Daemen Athletics is proud to be involved in Daemen’s CAUSE initiatives, which are designed to have a meaningful and long-lasting impact on participants, caregivers, Daemen students, and student-athletes,” said Director of Athletics Bridget Niland. “CAUSE is just one of many examples of the good work that can be done through combining academics and sports in the community.”

Caregivers are required to submit a registration form on behalf of CAUSE participants prior to their first session. Weekly online registration runs from Monday (9 a.m.) through Friday (3 p.m.).