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CAF's San Diego Triathlon Challenge Nets Over $1 Million

From left: Matt Perkins, Julia Uhlendorf, Carlos Gutierrez, Johnny O'Neal, and Mari Holden. Photo by Joel Zwink.
From left: Matt Perkins, Julia Uhlendorf, Carlos Gutierrez, Johnny O'Neal, and Mari Holden. Photo by Joel Zwink.

2006 proved to be a stellar year for the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF), the San Diego, California-based nonprofit organization benefiting physically challenged athletes. The premier fundraising events for the organization netted a total of nearly $2.5 million this year, $1,031,227 of that total resulting from the efforts of fundraisers in the 2006 13th Annual San Diego Triathlon Challenge (SDTC), held on November 5, at La Jolla Cove.

The half-Ironman event began with a 1.2-mile swim at La Jolla Cove, followed by a 56-mile bike ride up the coast to Carlsbad and back, capped off by a 13.1-mile run from the Cove up the grueling hills to Torrey Pines State Park and back.

More than 650 individuals participated in the event this year, including more than 100 athletes with physical challenges, along with 550 able-bodied individuals, including celebrities, weekend warriors, serious athletes, and individuals from sponsoring organizations.

For many, it is the first time they had pushed themselves to such extreme distances; for others it was just another swim, bike ride, or run in the park. But for all who participated in this event, there seems to be a collective sense of family, a sense of purpose that helps bring them to that finish line, whether completing the entire course or one leg of the event on a relay team.

Matt Perkins, director of marketing for Coyote Design, based in Boise, Idaho, is no stranger to triathlon competition. Perkins, a transfemoral amputee and accomplished challenged athlete, recorded a victory earlier in the year at the 2006 Triathlon World Championships.

He has participated in the SDTC eight times as part of a relay team, completing either the swim or run, and had this to say of the event, "The SDTC is a very humbling event with all the folks that are now part of the CAF family. I participate in fewer athletics these days with a busy work and travel schedule, so this event is more of a reunion of sorts for me, where I can catch up with former competitors and fellow athletes I now only see once a year, but I also can help in raising funds for the CAF cause." Perkins says this also is a great venue for him to promote Coyote's fundraiser, "The Tube, Trot, and Trike," to be held in Boise in August 2007.

An estimated 3,000 to 5,000 people visited the Cove during the SDTC, where there were expo tents from many of the sponsoring organizations, food vendors, entertainment, and play areas for children. One of the most popular attractions of the day was the sold-out Frog's Fitness Tour de Cove, where participants rode stationary "spin" bikes to raise funds for CAF. During the grueling spin sessions, onstage entertainment was provided by Atomic Groove and the AG Fly Girlz, a popular San Diego band.

The top individual fundraiser for 2006 once again was Bobby Bostic, who raised $151,467 this year, and remains the CAF All-Time Top Fundraiser at $503,255. At the closing ceremony and awards barbecue, Bostic said that although we didn't hear it from him, he anticipates the top fundraiser next year would net $250,000 for CAF.

Are you up for the challenge?

For more information on the SDTC or CAF, visit www.challengedathletes.org

Amputee Cyclist to Circle Globe

Ertl amputee and long distance endurance cyclist Dan Sheret announced his next adventure at the recent Opcare Scientific Meeting in Oxford, England. Sheret will cycle about 16,000 miles across four continents, circumnavigating the globe to continue his message of hope and awareness for others dealing with limb loss. Sheret will raise funds and awareness for two charities: the UK-based Douglas Bader Foundation and Clear Path International.

Robert Emerson, CP, former Olympic medal-winning athlete and co-founder of Lifestyle Prosthetics and Orthotics, North Andover, Massachusetts, said, "We will be at a loss without Dan for the next 14 months, but his work and mission will have worldwide reach, and that is what our company is about-going beyond the norm and making the impossible possible for our patients."

Starting in England in the spring of 2007, Sheret plans to cycle to 35 countries and will visit amputee aid organizations along his way.

"My goal is twofold: to bring hope and awareness to amputees in need throughout developing nations and to bring to light to the O&P industry the great work that is being done to aid landmine victims and other amputees, which often does not get reported." said Sheret.

For more information on Sheret's trip, visit the Amputee Cycling Association website: www.ampu-cycle.com

OPAF Distributes Film about Amputee Baseball Star

The Orthotic & Prosthetic Assistance Fund Inc. (OPAF) has announced its newest venture, "First at Third Base," a fundraising opportunity tied to the distribution of the documentary feature, This Old Cub, the story of famed Chicago Cubs third baseman Ron Santo. Now a bilateral transtibial amputee due to diabetes, Santo is the first and only major league baseball player to play while suffering from the disease. The film covers not only his amazing career with the Cubs, but also chronicles his second amputation and heroic rehabilitation as a famed broadcaster and sports personality.

"Ron Santo was a member of the 1969 Cubs team that came heartbreakingly close to the World Series, only to have it disappear," said OPAF Executive Director Robin Burton. "His inspiring story of courage and humor is one that will show everyone a man battling without bitterness. This film appeals not only to those baseball fans of yesterday and today, but also serves as an example of perseverance in the face of obstacles and rehabilitation.

"As part of First at Third Base, OPAF will receive half of the proceeds from the sale of each DVD," Burton continued. Orders can be placed directly with OPAF at 215.752.5756 or opaf@opfund.org . Orders also may be placed through the official This Old Cub website ( www.ThisOldCub.com ). "When placing your order through ThisOldCub.com, enter the code phrase OPAF in the company' field on the order form and your order will be flagged for the proceeds to be split with OPAF," Burton said.

For more information, contact Robin Burton: 215.752.5756; e-mail: rlb@opfund.org ; or visit www.opfund.org