Challenged Athletes Foundation Awards $40 Million in Grants to Individuals With Physical Disabilities
Individuals born with a birth defect, those who have suffered a life-changing accident, or lost a limb(s) serving our country lack resources to pursue life-affirming sports. Insurance does not cover expensive adaptive equipment and mentorship is rare. These obstacles discourage full, active lives.
Jim MacLaren was hit by a 40,000-pound city bus, pronounced dead at the scene, and awoke from a coma with his left leg missing below the knee. MacLaren, supported by a prosthetic leg, recovered to become the top amputee triathlete in the world. But in 1993 during a triathlon, a van struck MacLaren and propelled him into a pole, rendering him a quadriplegic.
In a grassroots fundraising effort to provide MacLaren independence, three friends initiated the San Diego Triathlon Challenge (SDTC) with proceeds going to an adapted vehicle for MacLaren. SDTC surpassed its $25,000 goal, bringing in $49,000, and revealed a large population of physically disabled individuals lacking resources to participate in life-affirming sports.
Recognizing the need for an organization that offered these resources, MacLaren’s three friends founded the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF) to provide opportunities and support so physically disabled individuals can pursue active lives through physical fitness and competitive athletics.
Since 1994, CAF has raised over $40 million and provided direct financial assistance to more than 6,100 individuals world-wide. This year, CAF funded a record-breaking number of grants totaling $1.7 million to 1,106 individuals in 27 countries—a feat enabled by the $1.2 million raised during the 2011 SDTC.
SDTC has evolved into an inspirational weekend full of transformational moments that culminate in a fitness festival where physically disabled children realize that they can lead an active life and keep up with their able-bodied friends. It is where these children experience running for the first time, and their families find a community of supporters invested in the future of their challenged athlete.
Joshua “JJ” Miller, the youngest participant at the 2010 SDTC, was born with a congenital heart condition and missing his tibias. He ran for the first time in the SDTC Kids’ Run on two prosthetic legs just two months after open-heart surgery.
His willpower inspired “Team JJ” which raised $30,000 to ensure CAF’s athletes are supported in all of their athletic goals. “SDTC was a big confidence booster for us as parents. I used to hide JJ’s legs from people and try to make him as inconspicuous as possible. At SDTC, JJ was a superstar and among others just like him. For that we are thankful.” – Laura Miller, JJ’s mother.
After his accidents, MacLaren declared, ‘I am not my body. I am alive—alive as anyone who is jamming a basketball, scoring a touchdown or hugging their child.’ In the 19 years since the inaugural SDTC, CAF has become a foundation that provides mentorship, community outreach, and support to permanently injured military personnel, children and aspiring athletes. CAF’s programs combine to reach an additional 60,000 people per year and ultimately eliminate all barriers challenged athletes face so they can feel MacLaren’s same resolve and live a life rooted in athletic opportunities, free of limitations.
More About This Charity
Charity of the Year
Challenged Athletes Foundation
It is the mission of the Challenged Athletes Foundation to provide opportunities and support to people with physical disabilities so they can pursue active lifestyles through physical fitness and competitive athletics. The Challenged Athletes Foundation believes that involvement in sports at any level increases self-esteem, encourages independence and enhances quality of life.
- This Achievement raised $40,000,000
- This charity raised $6,936,000 in the past year
- This Achievement helped 6,100 people
- This charity helped 2,086 people in the past year