October 17, 2019

Masco grant funds two U-M adaptive tennis players

The recent grant launches U-M's Adaptive Scholar Athlete Program. 

Two adaptive tennis players will be the first members of the University of Michigan’s Adaptive Scholar Athlete Program thanks to a grant from the Masco Foundation.

Caiden Baxter, a graduate student; Alex, Saleh, a freshman; and Dr. Okanlami meet with Keith Allman (L-R) at Masco headquarters

Caiden Baxter, a freshman; Alex Saleh, a graduate student; and Dr. Okanlami meet with Keith Allman (L-R) at Masco headquarters to express their sincere gratitude for supporting the brand new adaptive sports program and to discuss the big plans they have for the program’s future.

The $28,500 grant will support students, Caiden Baxter and Alex Saleh, who will compete in wheelchair tennis, including participating in the Collegiate National Wheelchair Tennis Championships in April.

“Masco is proud to be the inaugural sponsor of this program,” said Masco President and CEO Keith Allman, expressing the company’s desire to provide greater access to adaptive sports. “I’m passionate about athletics and passionate about the University of Michigan.”

As a part of the grant, Oluwaferanmi O. Okanlami, M.D., M.S., assistant professor of family medicine and physical medicine and rehabilitation; director of adaptive sports; and director for medical student programs with Michigan Medicine’s Office for Health Equity and Inclusion, traveled to Masco headquarters in Livonia to speak with Masco employees. He gave a presentation entitled, “Disabusing Disability – Demonstrating that Disability Doesn’t Mean Inability.” His talk touched on the ways that creating accessibility can open up participation in sports for everyone and the importance of incorporating accessibility into everyday life.

Impressed with the work that Dr. Okanlami has undertaken in his short time at Michigan, Mr. Allman noted, “He’s dedicated to the belief that disability does not mean inability.”“I would like to thank everyone at Masco Corporation for their genuine commitment to diversity and inclusion,” Dr. Okanlami noted. “As the inaugural sponsor of the Adaptive Scholar Athlete Program, they have helped student athletes with disabilities gain access to physical fitness and sport, while earning a world-class education at the University of Michigan. It is through partnerships like this that we can demonstrate to the rest of the world that disability does not mean inability.”

The support is part of the company’s ongoing Masco Million Differences grant program, which provides charitable contributions to organizations demonstrating diversity, equity and inclusion practices. Masco, which manufactures products relating to home improvement and new home construction, was an ideal audience for learning more about accessibility.