DALTON — The atmosphere at Adaptive Sports Program of Ohio's Dalton facility on Kurzen Road on a recent Tuesday evening was upbeat.

ASPO provides community programs and interscholastic adaptive sports, including wheelchair basketball, sled hockey, kayaking, softball, tennis, and track and field, in a number of locations.

Among the participants enjoying themselves in a strength and fitness program were Nancy Scholnik of Malvern and Cindy Jobe of North Canton.

Each is an amputee, said Jobe, who lost her leg to osteocarcoma at the age of 14. Scholnik's leg was amputated more recently as a complication of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. They met and became friends at an amputee support group, also a nonprofit organization, Scholnik pointed out, at Mercy Medical Center in Canton.

"We're so committed to this place," Scholnik said of ASPO. "Everybody here is fully my family."

Scholnik and Jobe share many commonalities, including having been a teacher, along with their affiliation with ASPO.

"Coming here, I don't stand out," Jobe said, highlighting as well participants' support of one another.

"We all work together," Scholnik said.

Jobe said, "It's like (the television program) ‘Cheers.’ I know the people. We help each other out."

"We're all just people," she pointed out.

Dan Brenneman of Wooster has been working out at the facility for four years.

"I was born without a hip socket," he said, recalling how growing up, "I always wanted to play sports."

Although not able to participate at "a high level," Brenneman said, "I played baseball and every sport they let me." Additionally, "I've lifted my whole life."

At ASPO Brenneman's favorite sport is wheelchair lacrosse.

Michael Baney, also of Wooster, sustained a spinal cord injury in a car accident and wanted "to keep physically active and stay in shape."

According to Jobe and Scholnik, Baney is an MVP on the rugby team. Unfortunately, they teased him, at a recent tournament, he had to spend some time with them in the penalty box, which they were manning.

It made him less lonely to "find an organization like this," Baney said.

Many of the people playing rugby have spinal cord injuries, he said. With them, "I can talk freely. It's comforting."

Doylestown resident Brian Sammons, who has undergone a series of spinal fusions, also has found ASPO to be a good place to rehabilitate.

"I felt better here," he said, particularly knowing that his workouts are being observed.

Jobe and Scholnik said that part of a grant funding the program requires a folder and documentation on each participant.

"(ASPO) means a lot to me personally," said Casey Followay, whose mother, Lisa Followay, is the founder and executive director.

Followay, an award-winning athlete, is training for the 2020 Paralympic Summer Games in Tokyo.

A 2015 graduate of Wooster High School, he was the first seated athlete in Ohio to join a school track team, and he represented Team USA in track and field at the 2019 Parapan American Games in Peru.

Because of his congenital spine defect called spina bifida that paralyzed his legs, "I was born with a hunger to be an athlete," he said, but "didn't have a way to express myself."

There wasn't an opportunity until his mother incorporated concepts she had seen work in Indiana in a new organization, he said.

"It gives me a second family" among other people with disabilities with whom he can identify.

Rather than "squandering (time) with self-pity," Followay said, ASPO participants feel "a sense of belonging and hope for the future."

In 2009 ASPO encompassed five athletes, 50 program hours and no adaptive equipment. It now serves 350 athletes and has logged 1,150 program hours in multiple sites with more than 1,500 pieces of adaptive equipment valued at $500,000.

More details

Name: Adaptive Sports Program of Ohio

About: Promotes health and wellness of people with physical and visual disabilities by offering adaptive sports and recreational opportunities

How to help: Volunteer, donate funds, attend events to support athletes

Phone: 330-985-0085

Website: adaptivesportsohio.org