We strive to create an environment that is inclusive, fun, positive, encouraging, and confidence boosting. We are energetic, enthusiastic, and determined to make a difference in our community and the world. We are Balance 180, and we hope you will check out our story and be inspired to connect with us.
How We Started: Small Group of People
SEVEN YEARS AGO, a small group of people in Gainesville, FL including Carsten Schmalfuss and Krista Vandenborne had a vision to make a difference in the lives of the children and families in their community. With the vision of our founders, leadership of our Board of Directors, dedication of coaches and volunteers, and the support of our sponsors and donors, we have worked together to create recreational and competitive gymnastics opportunities for all children regardless of their ability or financial need.
True to our mission, we have created a fun and positive place for all children to build confidence and learn physical and social skills through the sport of gymnastics. We have humble roots and started with minimal pieces of equipment, limited access to the gym, and only 14 athletes. Today, we are fortunate to have access to over 11,400 square feet of practice space and serve over 650 athletes across our programs.
Better Together: The People of Balance 180
Each person who walks through the doors of Balance 180 contributes to our community, and each person has a story. Our founders had a mission to do things a little differently. They saw a need for sports opportunities for children who may be less coordinated or need additional support due to a physical or intellectual disability, and they responded with founding Balance 180.
Over the years, we have developed a strong group of team members and ambassadors of our program that have continued and expanded what our founders set out to do. What makes us strong is that we have so many people willing to share their time, talents, expertise and resources to contribute to something bigger than themselves.
What We Have Accomplished: Humble Brags
With a great team of coaches, volunteers, interns, and supporters, we have had an incredible seven years of growth. To highlight a few of our accomplishments over the past years:
August 2012: Launched our first program, the Special Olympics Young Athletes Program, serving 14 children ages 2-8 years.
February 2013: Introduced recreational and adaptive gymnastics classes. Grateful for the Estrada family who have two boys in our adaptive gymnastics and have shared their story.
June 2014: Started our first competitive gymnastics program. We have an awesome team of coaches working with these athletes, including Coach Alyssa and Coach Andrew.
Fall 2016: Started an expansion to almost double the size of the gym.
Summer 2017: Launched the first Alachua County Special Olympics Gymnastics team. Some of these athletes, including, Matteo , have been with us since Balance 180 started.
October 2019: We have over 650 children pass through the doors of Balance 180 each week that join us for our 130 classes and are led by a team of 31 coaches, 35 assistant coaches, and around 120 volunteers.
These milestones are accomplished through the remarkable people who make Balance 180 who we are: our athletes, coaches, cofounders, coaches, volunteers, supporters, and parents. We are so grateful for everyone we have the importunity to interact with, and are so excited to have our story still being written!
How You Can Help: Connect with Us
TODAY, we are very fortunate to have a large facility that is filled with lots of great people and equipment, but we are dreaming BIG, and still have so much more we would like to accomplish with your help.
We hope that you feel compelled to help further our goal of providing an inclusive space for all children, and know that your contribution will go directly towards enhancing our programs. This year all the funds will go to meet the following needs:
**Offering additional athlete scholarship to families with financial needs.
**Purchasing the following equipment for our athletes:
- Pommel horse: Can be used by all of our athletes and will allow the men on our Special Olympics competitive gymnastics team to train and compete all six men's events
- Training vault as a progression for teaching skills on a vault table
- Multi-use 16" resi mat
- Sensory equipment: weighted vests, noise cancelling earmuffs, crash mat, etc. are a few things on our wish list
**Purchasing and installing water bottle filling drinking fountains to help keep our athletes hydrated and their water bottles full.
**Purchasing a strong PA system for emceeing special events at the gym
**Launching the USAG Xcel program at Balance 180 to provide competitive sports opportunities to more athletes.
**Improving the infrastructure of our current facility.
**Training of additional coaches/interns/volunteers to provide excellent instruction to our athletes with varying abilities.
**Providing continuing education opportunities for our coaching and volunteer team and bring in experts to ensure the quality of our programs.
More Than Just a Donation
With your donation, you are making an investment in the lives of children. With your support, our young athletes are given the opportunity to be a part of a team, develop important motor and social skills, and HAVE FUN doing a sport. A donation of any size will directly impact the future of children in a positive, lasting way.
Thank you for making Balance 180 the recipient of your year-end tax-deductible donation.
The solicitation registration number of Balance 180 Gymnastics and Sports Academy is: CH36407. Here is the website to obtain our registration information:
All contributions are tax-deductible. The EIN for Balance 180 is 45-4642781.
- Ashley Bencivenga
- William Collins
- Lauren Trepanier
- Stuart Binder-Macleod
Fundraising team: Green v Pink (35)
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