How we Started
Chicago Adaptive Sports (CAS) began as a result of the founder, Alma Cabacungan recognizing the urgent need in the heart of Chicago for a sports facility dedicated for children and adults with physical disabilities. As a parent of a child with a disability, she saw firsthand the impact participation in competitive sports had on her son and his friends and how many obstacles exist for many to be able participate. Alma had this belief that not only the development of a facility would be important, but providing support to those with disabilities to be able to reach their potential.
She found two other people who had this same set of beliefs. One individual Ken Carwell had recently begun to participate in competitive sports teams. In 2014 Ken had a Hemipelvectomy to remove bone cancer located deep in his pelvis. He began playing basketball in 2016 and has supported the programs since. The third person involved is Dr. Thomas Hurlburt. Dr. Hurlburt is a Superintendent of an elementary school district in south Cook County. Dr. Hurlburt has a passion for serving those who need the support to achieve their goals.
Together this team has begun the process of developing Chicago Adaptive Sports to meet its goals and provide high quality support to those in the disability community. The long-term goal is the development of a world class facility to individuals with a disability. Recently Chicago Adaptive Sports was approved as a 501C3 organization.
Who we serve
Chicago Adaptive Sports provides programming, support and advocacy for individuals with physical and visual disabilities. Our goal is to develop and promote programming adapted to meet the needs of individuals who use manual or power wheelchairs, in addition to those with ambulatory disabilities, including:
spinal cord injury
other orthopedic impairments
Chicago Adaptive Sports believes that health is a lifelong pursuit and supports programs for individuals of all ages and backgrounds, including injured military veterans. Programming is offered without regard to socioeconomic status, as we believe no one should ever be turned away due to an inability to pay. We support both competitive and recreational athletics and welcome every athlete. No prior experience is necessary to participate.
Meet our Team
Our Board of Directors
Our Board of Directors is the governing body of CSA responsible for providing fiscal oversight, helping to formulate short- and long-term strategic goals, contributing to agency fundraising efforts, and providing needed professional skills.
Juan Ortiz has participated in adaptive sports for over 22 years following a shooting that left him paralyzed at 14 years old. He was introduced to adaptive sports a few months after injury at the Chicago public high school most disabled students across the city attended at the time. Although Juan was still struggling with his new disability, he found sport to be a major contributing factor in shaping the rest of his life.
The social aspect alone would have made the experience well worth it, forming what would be lifelong bonds with peers facing similar struggles helped Juan feel comfortable and eventually even confident in his own skin. Sport proved to Juan that he could still be successful despite the disability. At first, he couldn’t figure out how to dribble a basketball and push his wheelchair at the same time without the ball ricocheting off his chair out of bounds. It was the encouragement of his teammates that kept him
motivated as they began to see success personally and as a team.
Over the years Juan has mainly participated in Basketball and Softball but has always encouraged athletes to try any adaptive sport that sparks their interest. Juan carries a hard work will pay off mentality into all aspects of his life and continues to see success in all that he commits to. After earning a bachelor’s degree in Human Resource Management and eventually an MBA in Information Technology, Juan now works in IT for the Emergency Nurses Association. He is a husband and father of three, and still enjoys participating in adaptive sports for both the social and physical outlet. Juan believes Chicago Adaptive Sports (CAS) will help show the disabled community that with a little hard work they can achieve any goal they set for themselves.
Ivory Harris began playing adaptive sports when he was 16 years old. He grew up playing adaptive sports and played as a youth, collegiate, and adult.
As a youth, he played three years for the junior team, the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC) Bulldogs (1998-2001). While earning a B.A. in Speech Communications, he played four years of collegiate basketball for the University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign from 2001-2005. He played for four years for the RIC Hornets, and currently plays wheelchair basketball for the Division III Chicago Skyhawks. Since 2015, he has also played wheelchair softball for the Chicago adaptive softball program.
Ivory volunteers by playing basketball exhibitions, coaching at summer camps, and going into schools telling the youth his story of living with a disability and participating in adaptive sports. Participating in adaptive sports has impacted his life in three main areas. Those areas are developing friendships, traveling, and structure. He has met many friends from being an athlete, and has had the opportunity to travel across the U.S. to expose new people to wheelchair athletics. Lastly, the discipline that he learned from sports is displayed in his life daily. Professionally, since 2008, he has served as a program manager and mentor. He has coordinated several school and community-based programs that expose youth to various career, college, and academic resources. He has spoken at several Chicago public schools about the journey to his career, overcoming obstacles, decision-making, and access to college. In joining the board of Chicago Adaptive Sports, it has given him the opportunity to advocate for teammates and youth that participate in and support adaptive sports. He believe it is also great to be a member of an organization that will provide additional funding to programs and athletes that need it.
In his spare time, Ivory enjoys traveling, video games, and spending time with family and friends.
Kenneth Carwell has actively worked to provide for the education and care of special education students since graduating from Elmhurst College in 1977. He has had a variety of roles and responsibilities in that time, but all have been with the goal of helping students with disabilities develop the skills necessary to be productive adults. Ken started his career at Proviso Area Exceptional Children as a classroom teacher. He also worked for the DuPage County Health Department in the Screening and Assessment of children with acute mental illness episodes. Most recently, he has worked as part of the management team for Special Education Services Inc, an Illinois Not For Profit.
Prior to 2014, Ken was not disabled. On April 1st 2014, Ken had his right leg amputated to treat bone cancer in his pelvis. From that time on, Ken learned the struggles, challenges and rewards that one can only experience from being disabled.
Ken plans to use his experience and skills to advocate for disabled children and adults in Illinois. Ken has played or coached basketball at the high
school, college and adult level. He recently began playing the adaptive sports of basketball and softball. He has seen the importance of the sense of community, the importance of
physical activity and how competition can help these athletes reach their potential in all aspects of their
Dr. Thomas Hurlburt
Tom Hurlburt believes that the mission of Chicago Adaptive Sports (CAS) can change lives. Tom has worked as a Clinical Social Worker and School Superintendent and is a former All-American Hammer thrower. As a high school and collegiate athlete he learned the importance of setting goals and the hard work it takes to accomplish them. Tom applied many the lessons he learned from participating in sports in his pursuit of two Master’s degrees and a Doctorate in Educational Administration, while overcoming Dyslexia.
Tom plans to work towards ensuring Chicago Adaptive Sports provides the resources for disabled athletes to overcome any obstacle in their way. While enjoying a sport they will learn to set new and bigger goals.
Alma Cabacungan is a Financial Controller at a Medical Imaging Manufacturer. She has raised four children that have always loved to watch and play sports. Her involvement in the adaptive community began where her son joined the Chicago Skyhawks wheelchair basketball team 6 years ago. She has seen, firsthand, how important the team has become for her son and the other young people on the team. Alma believes that Chicago needs a central and dedicated sports facility. Youth and adults not only benefit from the physical aspect of being on a team, but also from learning social skills and team sportsmanship. Alma plans to work towards highlighting the opportunities available to all people with physical disabilities.