GLASA makes sure people with physical or visual disabilities can take part in sports

GLASA makes sure people with physical or visual disabilities can take part in sports

The Great Lakes Adaptive Sports Association believes that no one should be excluded from taking part in sports, whether as a team or individual.

That's why the organization in Lake Forest offers a variety of programs for people of all ages with physical or visual disabilities. No one sits out in the more than 20 sports offered at over 60 locations in northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin.

According to its website,, GLASA's core sports with the most participation are track and field, swimming, sled hockey, wheelchair basketball and tennis - with many more from which to choose.

Mak Nong, a GLASA program manager, coach and athlete, says being part of the organization has been life changing.

"Being part of the GLASA Chicago Bears Wheelchair Football Team has not only provided me with a better quality of life physically, but mentally as well. The camaraderie I feel within this team is unparalleled," he said in an email.

Ethan Shao learns to play tennis at GLASA's Camp Trek. This year's camp takes place July 24-28 in Libertyville. Courtesy of Karla Livney

GLASA also offers programs specifically geared toward injured veterans, including golf clinics, swimming and water aerobics, all for free.

If you want to join one the programs but think it is impossible because you don't have the right tools, GLASA can help there as well with its equipment lending program. There you will find court sport wheelchairs, racing wheelchairs, handcycles, tandem bikes and more. For more information, visit

To get younger kids outside and active, GLASA will hold its Camp Trek July 24-28 around Independence Grove in Libertyville. Kids ages 6-18 who sign up will be paired with a volunteer counselor and take part in various sports, fishing and kayaking.

The cost to attend is $175 for the week or $50 per day. Scholarship opportunities are available.

Volunteer counselors ages 14 and older are needed for this camp. If you are interested, visit

Liz Mixon, marketing manager for GLASA, discusses the organization and its upcoming Camp Trek.

Q: What is GLASA? Give a brief overview of what the organization does and who you serve.

A: Great Lakes Adaptive Association (GLASA) is a local nonprofit organization that strives to ensure no one sits on the sidelines. The GLASA mission is to empower and support youth, adults and injured military who have a physical or visual disability through inclusive, adaptive sports programs.

Will Garcia plays basketball with a GLASA counselor at Camp Trek. Courtesy of Karla Livney

Q: How many people per year do you serve?

A: GLASA serves 1,000-plus athletes each year.

Q: What are some of your programs?

A: GLASA provides 20-plus adaptive sports programs including wheelchair basketball, wheelchair tennis, track & field, swim, power soccer, and many others.

Q: Where do the majority of your funds come from to support your work and what are they used for?

A: As a nonprofit, GLASA is supported by grants, sponsorships, and personal donations from our amazing supporters.

Q: Tell us about Camp Trek.

A: Camp Trek is the GLASA summer camp for youth ages 6-18 with a physical or visual disability. Camp Trek often serves as the first time youth campers experience adaptive sports. The weeklong day camp, July 24-28, features a variety of sports and activities for kids to enjoy, including adaptive tennis, yoga, wheelchair basketball, outdoor activities, crafts, and more! It is held in Libertyville around Independence Grove, but the exact location is yet to be determined due to construction at the planned site. To register, visit

Q: How can readers volunteer to help?

A: Each attendee at Camp Trek is partnered with a volunteer counselor. Counselors are typically local high school or college students. We encourage individuals with a physical or visual disability to apply for counselor roles to build opportunities for mentorship for our youngest athletes.

Volunteers can register to be interviewed for a counselor role by visiting All volunteers must be at least 14 years old and attend counselor training prior to camp. Attendance for the full week is required.

Lucas Jundt participates in the javelin throw at the GLASA Great Lakes Games. Courtesy of GLASA

Q: How can readers help GLASA if they can't volunteer?

A: Looking to support the GLASA mission?

Share our story with your network, including GLASA's volunteer site:

Donate at to help empower our athletes by funding our programs and help to make our mission possible.

Join in a leadership capacity to offer your advice and skills to groups like our women's committee, young professionals board or an adaptive sports tournament host committee.

Attend a GLASA event like our 25th Anniversary Gala in April 2024, or one of our tournaments to cheer on our athletes.

Sign up for a race and raise funds for our mission at events like the Bank of America Chicago Marathon or the Lincolnshire 5K benefiting GLASA. Learn more at or contact us at

Q: What else would you like readers to know?

A: In 2024, GLASA will celebrate our 25th anniversary. All of the organization's programs, events and tournaments will be in celebration of 25 years of serving our athletes and our community.

Great Lakes Adaptive Sports Association

What: Camp Trek, for kids ages 6-18 with physical and visual disabilities

When: July 24-28

Where: Around Independence Grove in Libertyville, exact location TBD

Cost: $175 for the week or $50 per day; scholarship opportunities available

To register: volunteer:

Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.