Break the Barriers celebrates 35th anniversary, needs help fundraising

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- With their competitive energy flowing, these veterans are aiming for a bullseye inside Break the Barriers archery class for veterans.

"I feel privileged. It's not something I ever thought I would do," said Addison Jones, veteran.

Addison Jones served in the Army during Vietnam. With one arm and a prosthetic, he's able to shoot arrows and hit his target.

Jones is one of 900 participating in the non-profit's booming program, which started seven years ago.

"A lot of these guys have sacrificed their lives for our freedom, and it's time for us to be able to give back," said Tyler Hergenrader, outreach coordinator

This year marks Break the Barriers' 35th anniversary of celebrating people's abilities and their victories.

Co-founder Deby Hergenrader was inspired by her sister Kathy, who had Down Syndrome, to start a place where everyone could be included.

"I grew up as an older sister seeing how the world perceived her. When they would sign us up for swim lessons, or gymnastics, or dancing, I heard people say 'We can take your two older children, but I'm sorry there must be a special place we don't work with those kinds of people.' It broke my heart," said Deby Hergenrader, cofounder & chief of operations.

What started as a small gym in her backyard has turned into this modern facility serving kids and adults of all ability types.

They've grown to 28 programs, funded by donations and grants. The newest program is aerial dance fitness.

One of their lesser-known programs is the H.O.P.E Neurological Exercise program helping some people to walk again.

So far, 90 people are working to regain their functions, and employees are always fundraising to help even more people.

As for veterans like Jones, he's already learning he can do things, he once thought were impossible, like archery.

"It didn't seem like it was going to work, but the word break barriers, those are just barriers that are in your way so let's find a way we can do that," said Addison Jones, veteran.

Breaking barriers and helping the community for more than three decades.
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