Find Sports for All at the Angel City Games

By Christina Elston

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Asher Stewart clowns around and enjoys the vibe at the Angel City Games. PHOTO COURTESY JOHN STEWART

Asher Stewart likes to keep moving. He was born without a fibula (shin bone) in one leg and there was an issue with his other foot. Doctors thought it best to amputate part of the leg, and planned for the surgery to take place when he was a year old. “At 6 months, he was trying to walk,” says Asher’s father, John. “Nothing’s ever stopped him.”

The Angel City Games are a perfect place for Asher, who is now 8 and – with the help of a prosthetic foot and a runner’s prosthetic leg – plays basketball and baseball, practices karate and participates in all sorts of track-and-field events. The third annual edition of the games takes place June 22-25 at UCLA and is open to participants with any physical disability, including the blind and visually impaired. All ages and ability levels are welcome.

The games will include clinics and competition in track and field, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair tennis, swimming and archery. There will also be a celebrity wheelchair basketball game, toddler track-and-field events, an opening night party and barbecue, a kids fun zone and live entertainment.

Scott Wood and his daughter, Davian Grant Wood, 5, have been attending since the first Angel City Games in 2015. Davian, who goes by “Davi,” was born with a detached retina in one eye, limited vision in the other, and microcephaly. Scott is friends with Clayton Frech and his son, Ezra, who co-founded the games. Clayton invited Scott to bring Davi to the toddler competition.

“Davi likes soccer, she likes the trampoline, she loves dancing and jumping,” says Scott. Angel City Games was a great fit.

Davian Grant Wood, pictured with her dad, loves to be active, and the Angel City Games are a great opportunity. PHOTO COURTESY SCOTT WOOD

The Stewart family found the Angel City Games as part of a lengthy search for sports programs for Asher. “Everything I was seeing was Midwest to East Coast,” says John, who was grateful to find the games in L.A. “It’s been such a blessing,” he says, adding that the family had recently relocated from Washington and didn’t have family nearby. The games have connected them with a new community that builds Asher’s confidence. “Asher’s been able to hang out with other kids and see that he’s 100 percent normal,” says John.

Scott, who has been a coach for more than 15 years and currently coaches football at Harvard Westlake school in West L.A. and golf at Westmark school in Encino, thinks keeping kids of all abilities active is essential. “It just promotes overall health,” he says. “To face the world with a challenge, you’re going to need to be as strong as you possibly can.”

Participating in the games can also be a real confidence booster. “When he walks around here, everyone knows who he is,” John says of Asher. The self-esteem carries over into the rest of Asher’s life.

The vibe at the games contributes to that good feeling. “It’s another place to just receive love,” says Scott. “I call it the party in the clouds. It’s like the lightest, most positive atmosphere.” It’s an atmosphere free of judgment, and a great place for kids and adults to learn to appreciate differences. “Everyone is learning something,” Scott says. “It’s really for everyone.”

Spectator tickets for the games cost $5. Participation fee for athletes begins at $25 for a single sport, with a $5 entry fee for the toddler games and a $10 fee for a clinic pass. Admission to the celebrity wheelchair basketball game is $5, and fee for the cookout is $15.

Learn more, register your athlete or purchase tickets at www.angelcitygames.org.

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