Lucas Dobrzanski

Lucas Dobrzanski is the founder and president of Kern Athletic Fencing Foundation, a nonprofit organization.

The Kern Athletic Fencing Foundation has initiated a new program that provides Bakersfield and Kern County with a unique opportunity for people that are physically challenged: parafencing! This Paralympic sport allows people partially paralyzed (hemi or paraplegic), or with impaired muscle power, involuntary writhing (athetosis), impaired passive range of movement, muscle overactivity (hypertonia), limb deficiency, impaired coordination (ataxia), and leg length difference to — why not? — soar!

Disabled people have historically been stigmatized, kept hidden, told what they can’t achieve rather than what they can achieve. A sport such as fencing can help build the discipline, confidence and sense of accomplishment to help people with disabilities succeed. It provides an opportunity to have fun while challenging oneself.

Thanks to the generous contributions received by KAFF through our Inaugural Parfencing Gala fundraising event held in August, we have been able to purchase equipment, engage coaches and administrators, and fund program development, including outreach to potential participants and nonprofits serving Kern’s disabled community.

For this we owe much thanks to Wonderful Co., Terrio Physical Therapy & Fitness, Aspire Counseling Services, Bakersfield Family Medical Center, Wildflower Vineyards, Billings Marketing, and Strata Credit Union, as well as many other individuals.

Because of their contributions, we have, in less than two months, been able to launch a program that is free for those who qualify. We encourage individuals who are physically challenged, or their caregivers, to reach out to us for consultation and an opportunity to try the sport.

We offer regular training sessions downtown, at The Woman’s Club of Bakersfield. Since our fencing studio is upstairs, The Woman’s Club has accommodated our need for wheelchair accessibility for parafencing athletes at a space on the first floor of the Woman’s Club.

We request the community’s help in finding individuals who can benefit from our program. Additionally, we still are seeking financial support to purchase costly customized equipment for our athletes so they can enjoy parafencing free of charge.

To learn more about Kern Athletic Fencing Foundation and/or parafencing, visit our website, KernAFF.org. You will find details under the tab for Fencing Classes. You can also find videos about this program on the YouTube channel for Kern Athletic Fencing Foundation. Feel free to write to us at lucas@bak.rr.com or call Liz Geyer, membership coordinator, at 661-332-0250.

Finally, our long-term dream: One of our goals is to produce competitive parafencers by providing them with training, transportation to tournaments, and related expenses. These parafencers could become paralympians and compete in the Paralympics in Los Angeles in 2028.

Help us make this dream a reality!

Lucas Dobrzanski is the founder and president of Kern Athletic Fencing Foundation, a nonprofit organization. He is a retired chemical engineer and has been a resident of Bakersfield since 1974. He can be reached at lucas@bak.rr.com.