{ COMMUNITY }

INCLUSION IN ACTION

Providing individuals with physical challenges the opportunity to succeed in sports and in life

JENNA NIENHUIS
Challenged Athletes Foundation    Best Day in Triathlon    
October 23, 2016

  
©2016 Rich Cruse  CrusePhoto.com
GoShiggyGo_LoRez-361_400
GoShiggyGo_LoRez-325_400
30475540261_409ec98638_z_400
SDTCrun2_400
30563218405_f01c007499_z_400
scoutrui_1014_2

Alex Henry arrived at La Jolla Cove on October 18, 2015, eyes wide with possibility. The bandana she wore over her head and the crutches she used for her newly amputated leg were signs of her fight over the last year. Alex had been granted travel expenses from her hometown of Sacramento to attend the Aspen Medical Products San Diego Triathlon Challenge (SDTC) benefitting the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF). She immediately connected with three like-minded teenage girls, two of whom knew the ins and outs of her journey because, like Alex, they also stood at the frightening starting line of an Osteosarcoma diagnosis and became single-leg amputees.

At SDTC, with hundreds of other people with physical challenges by her side, Alex quickly discovered that sports and physical fitness were her ticket to a life of confidence, connection, fulfillment and success in life.

“SDTC was life-changing. SDTC showed Alex that she has no limits. Alex was five days out of chemo when she experienced SDTC. From that day forward, she has never looked back. She never questioned her disability and honestly has never thought she was ‘less than’ compared to other kids. SDTC showed her ‘I still can!’ SDTC saved her life!” shared Doug Henry, Alex’s father.

Sports and fitness are at the heart of our society’s culture and values, but there are major barriers for entry into an active lifestyle for people with physical challenges. Other limitations include limited access, lack of insurance coverage, the expensive cost of adaptive equipment and little recognition in the sports world.

CAF is on a mission to provide opportunities and support to people with physical challenges so they can pursue active lifestyles through physical fitness and competitive athletics. CAF provides grants for equipment, travel, coaching and competition expenses in addition to facilitating camps, clinics and transformational fundraising events around the country that bring together challenged athletes and able-bodied athletes in an inclusive environment.

Since 1994, more than $80 million has been raised and over 18,000 funding requests from people with physical challenges in all 50 states
and dozens of countries have been satisfied. In 2017 alone, CAF has distributed $3.7 million in grants to 2,448 people with physical disabilities. An additional 60,000 people are impacted annually through CAF’s clinics and outreach. 

CAF provides support throughout an athlete’s entire journey, at any level, any age and every step of the way. Whether it’s a $2,500 grant for a handcycle, funds to compete at a local track meet or arranging enthusiastic encouragement from a mentor, CAF gives every opportunity to those who want to live a physically active lifestyle.

By continuing to fulfill its mission year after year, CAF is creating a world of inclusion through sports.

October 22, 2017 marks the 24th annual SDTC, the flagship event that embodies CAF’s life-changing work. It’s an event that transcends a medal or a finish line and forever impacts the lives of the donors, challenged athletes, volunteers and sponsors involved. 

The challenge distance triathlon—a one-mile swim, 44-mile bike course and 10-mile run—is just one element during the empowering weekend of activities including surf, running and swim clinics, a kids’ run, stationary cycling marathon and more. Able-bodied and challenged athletes compete together on an even playing field, changing perceptions about what’s possible.

SDTC is inclusion in action. 

Thanks to CAF and the community of support, Alex Henry is now thriving and focusing on being a teenage girl: she enjoys horseback riding, swimming, running and attending other CAF clinics. To participate in a CAF event or to honor athletes like Alex with a donation, visit: challengedathletes.org

“One of my favorite things about SDTC is seeing the kids go from being ‘the person with a disability’ to being just another kid who loves being active! They have the freedom to be exactly who they are because of the opportunities that CAF provides.”
– Travis Ricks, Sr., Programs Manager & Athlete Relations at CAF.