Finding perfect, accessible facility essential for Cruisers Sports

Canadian Paralympic Committee

January 22, 2020

Paralympic Sport Development Fund helps organization expand

Cruisers Sports wheelchair racers in their chairs.

MISSISSAUGA – Finding the right facility was critical for Cruisers Sports for the Physically Disabled to be able to grow their track program. 

But once they found the right location – which took nearly a year to find an accessible location that fit their needs – being able to cover costs was another challenge. Thanks in part to funding from the Paralympic Sport Development Fund, Cruisers now has a suitable home for the Para track program at Iceland Arena in Mississauga.  

“We had to have something that we could hop in at any time, any day, any hour, where it has a locked door because the equipment is quite expensive,” said Lisa Myers, director of Para athletics at Cruisers Sports. “We had to ensure it was accessible and large enough to grow into as we start to get more and more people involved in the track program.” 

The Para athletics program is one of a number of sports Cruisers offers, providing much-needed opportunities for people with disabilities to participate in organized sports such as boccia, Para ice hockey, and wheelchair basketball at both the recreational and competitive levels. Today it is one of the largest community-based Para sport programs in the country. 

Cruisers Sports participants playing wheelchair basketball

Previously, most of its indoor Para track programming was run out of coach Ken Thom’s basement, which had a bonus of no rental fee but was limiting in size and accessibility. Sadly Thom, who was a driving force behind the success of Cruisers, passed away suddenly in 2017 and a new solution was eventually needed. 

Cruisers received $5,000 from the 2019-2020 Paralympic Sport Development Fund, an annual granting program run by the Canadian Paralympic Committee which supports development initiatives by Para sport organizations. Cruisers put the funds towards facility fees and running have-a-go days for people to try out Para athletics.  

“We’ve had an overwhelming response to our track and field program,” said Myers. “Right now I have more people interested in track than I do functional racing chairs, so it’s been really exciting for me because we have all these people who are super interested, and we now have the space where we can get people in throughout the season.” 

Cruisers was also able to leverage a grant from the City of Mississauga to completely cover their facility costs for this year, and now are readying to sign a five-year lease. Having a home was so important to the future of the organization, says Myers. 

“This program will never grow if we don’t have an indoor option where we can get those beginners out and trying the sport before the outdoor season … If we’re trying to show the fun aspect of the sport and set them up to have fun and have success, I think it’s a huge factor.” 

As a 100 per cent volunteer-based, non-profit organization – it was originally founded by parents who wanted to ensure a club existed where their kids can be physically active – grants like the Paralympic Sport Development Fund are important to Cruisers to help create sustainable programming. 

“As a club that is trying to ensure that we have enough equipment and space to be able to accommodate a lot of different people with very different disabilities, being able to access funding to help offset those costs is critical,” said Myers. “We wouldn’t be able to run this program in my opinion without this grant. It came at the right time for us.” 

Applications for the 2020-21 Paralympic Sport Development Fund are now open. For more information or to apply, visit

To find out more about Cruisers Sports, visit

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