Press Releases

Challenged Athletes Foundation to Celebrate Champions and Change Perceptions at the 19th Annual Aspen Medical Products San Diego Triathlon Challenge


Physically Challenged Athletes, Celebrities and Professional Athletes to Participate Side-by-Side on Sunday, October 21, 2012 in La Jolla Cove

SAN DIEGO--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- The Challenged Athletes Foundation® (CAF), a world leader in helping individuals with physical challenges get involved in sports, will welcome over 5,000 supporters – spectators and participants – to the La Jolla Cove for the 19th Annual Aspen Medical Products San Diego Triathlon Challenge (SDTC). The full day-long event, which also includes the 24 Hour Fitness Tour de Cove cycling marathon and Kaiser Permanente Thrive-5K Fitness Walk and Wawanesa Family Fun Zone, will raise more than $1 million to help physically challenged individuals get off the sidelines and into the game.

“Being part of CAF’s SDTC was one of the most life-changing experiences I have ever had,” said four-time Ironman World Champion and SDTC participant Chrissie Wellington. “I truly can’t put into words what it meant to me. It has inspired me more than anything else I have ever done.”

The event began 19 years ago as a small fundraiser to help a local injured triathlete regain his independence through the sport he loved. Today, the Aspen Medical Products San Diego Triathlon Challenge has grown into a celebration of life and sport that is making a difference in the lives of physically challenged athletes around the world. SDTC is an event unlike any other. It features a “challenge” distance triathlon, a 1 mile swim, 44 mile bike, and 10 mile run, in which more than 200 challenged athletes will compete side-by-side with 500 able-bodied athletes. Key participants and available CAF Spokespeople will include celebrities and sports legends such as:

  • NBA Hall of Famer Bill Walton
  • Two-time Ironman World Champion and legend Scott Tinley
  • Professional sports announcer Craig Hummer
  • Pro-triathletes Jordan Rapp, Meghan Newcomer, and Sarah Piampiano
  • Legendary triathletes Julie Moss, who is competing in Kona to race on the 30th anniversary of her 1982 Ironman® finish seen around the world
  • Actor Kevin Compayre from The Unit
  • Stars from ABC’s The Bachelor and The Bachelorette: Dr. Andy Baldwin, Roberto Martinez, Tenley Molzahn, and Kiptyn Locke
  • NCAA Wrestling Champion, Winner of the 2011 ESPY Jimmy V. Award and above-knee amputee Anthony Robles
  • Two-time Xterra World Champion, cancer survivor and challenged athlete, 2012 Leadville 100 Mountain Bike finisher, Jamie Whitmore
  • Recent Paralympic medalists Rudy Garcia-Tolson (swimming), Blake Leeper (athletics), Katy Sullivan (athletics) and Oz Sanchez (wheelchair racing)
  • Bob Babbitt, CAF Co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of Competitor magazine
  • San Diego City Council Member Kevin Faulconer
  • California State Assembly Member Nathan Fletcher
  • Virginia Tinley, CAF Executive Director
  • Challenged athlete, author and reality TV star Sarah Reinertsen of The Amazing Race
  • More than 25 members of CAF’s Operation Rebound® program, which supports permanently injured service men and women
  • SDTC award winners (listed below)
  • Recent Kona Ironman® World Championship competitors

The triathlon itself is the culmination of a full weekend of events which also includes the 24 Hour Fitness Tour de Cove, a four-and-a-half hour stationary cycling marathon, and the Kaiser Permanente Thrive-5K Fitness Walk, both of which take place at La Jolla Cove. Challenged athletes of all ages and abilities from around the world will come together in La Jolla for this unique day. To provide additional support to these challenged athletes, CAF will conduct four sports and agility clinics beginning Friday, Oct. 19, each designed to teach challenged athletes the skills they need to succeed in sports. These clinics include the CAF Össur Leg Amputee Running and Mobility Workshop, Wheelchair Triathlon Workshop, Challenged Athlete Swim Workshop, and Challenged Athlete Open Water Swim Workshop.

Funds raised over the course of the weekend will allow CAF to support challenged athletes by providing grants for adaptive sports equipment, training and competition expenses so they can live active lifestyles and participate in sports. In addition, CAF will raise awareness and change perceptions of what is possible for people with physical disabilities. By participating in the triathlon, cycling marathon, 5K and kids run, more than 200 challenged athletes will demonstrate that there are no limits to their success in sports and life.

This event is made possible thanks to CAF’s many supporters and sponsors including Aspen Medical Products, the Dodge Brand, Xterra Wetsuits, Monster Energy, Philadelphia Insurance Companies, Sport Chalet, Kaiser Permanente, Union Bank, Headsweats, Össur, Sempra Energy, Ironman, Refuel “got chocolate milk?”, Loma Linda University PossAbilities, InnovaSystems International, LLC., Cox Communication, Callaway, Hanger, Oakley, Sunset Parking, TYR, Wawanesa Insurance, Specialized, Zico, La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club, Scope, Paul Mitchell, GU, Clif Bar, Swiftwick, Vitalyte, Modern Postcard, La Valencia Hotel, Lock Laces, Asics, Aqua Sphere, Kinsesys, Sock Guy, De Soto Wetsuits, Independent, Riviera Paddlesurf, Smartwater, and Vitaminwater.

7:00 a.m. Parade of Athletes, including introduction of legends, celebrities, challenged athletes and recent Paralympians
7:40 a.m. Special Presentation #1: Presentation of basketball wheelchair to 10-year-old local challenged athlete Luke Acuna
7:40 a.m. National Anthem
8:20 a.m. Hot Corner with Celebrity and VIP Relay Team Tag-offs
9:00 a.m. Start of the 24 Hour Fitness Tour de Cove
10:00 a.m. Challenged Athletes Kids Run
11:15 a.m. Kaiser Permanente Thrive-5K Walk
1:00 p.m. Special Presentation #2: Presentation of a running leg to 12-year-old Truman Hedrick at the 24 Hour Fitness Tour de Cove stage
2:00 p.m. Awards BBQ, Ironman® slot winner announcement and check presentations at La Jolla Bridge Club

Key Moments & Special Presentations

2012 Award Winners

Every year, at CAF’s San Diego Triathlon Challenge, four awards are presented to selected CAF athletes and supporters who have demonstrated extraordinary amounts of strength, resilience, and guidance.

Sempra Energy Trailblazer Award: Chris Self is a 25-year U.S. Army veteran. In December 2005, while serving in Iraq, Chris sustained gunshot wounds to both legs during a combat operation. One bullet severed the sciatic nerve in his right leg leaving it paralyzed. Chris was determined not to let his injury slow him down, and made the decision to have his paralyzed right leg amputated in 2006. With the help of CAF Operation Rebound, Chris is now back to the active lifestyle he once enjoyed. In addition to participating in the W100 mountain bike ride with President George W. Bush, Chris competed in the prestigious Race Across America earlier this year.

Aspen Medical Products Most Inspirational Athlete Award: Karen Aydelott was a pioneer in the female triathlete movement and a 26-time Ironman finisher, when she was hit by a car while cycling in 2006. As a result Karen’s leg was amputated below the knee. However her injury couldn’t slow her down and Karen qualified for 2012 Ironman World Championships as an age-grouper at Ironman Arizona 2011. This will be her lucky 13th time competing in Kona.

Rising Star Award: Haven Shepherd was born in Vietnam out of wedlock. Her parents attempted a family suicide resulting in their death, and the loss of Haven’s legs below knee. Adopted by the Shepherd family, Haven fit right in with her six athletic Shepherd siblings. She received her first pair of Össur running feet through CAF in 2011 and has already placed second in an official track meet.

Jim MacLaren Award: Larry Scott has dedicated countless hours and a decade of support to CAF. Larry is one of CAF’s top fundraisers, has participated in the San Diego Triathlon Challenge and is a seven-time participant in the Million Dollar Challenge cycling event. He brings vision and energy combined with a sense of appreciation for the goal of challenged athletes to live life to the fullest. As Chairman of the RC Baker Foundation, he led the effort to fund CAF’s educational center, a valuable community resource at the Deni + Jeff Jacobs Challenged Athletes Center. Larry continues to serve as a leader and innovator for CAF, demonstrated by his role in securing the underwriting of CAF’s soon to be announced elite paratriathlon team.

Volunteer of the Year Award: Julie Solwold (accepting on behalf of Paul Mitchell Systems) - For nine years, Julie Solwold has coordinated teams of Paul Mitchell volunteers to cut hair at XTERRA, Malibu Tri, South Beach Tri, CAF’s San Diego Triathlon Series, Down and Dirty and Muddy Buddy Series events to raise money for CAF. Julie’s role is to rouse volunteer haircutters before dawn to schlep out to remote locations to cut hair on behalf of CAF. Paul Mitchell has raised more than $120,000 for CAF – approximately 8,000 haircuts at $15 each.

To follow SDTC on Twitter, go to @CAFoundation or #BestDayInTri.

The Challenged Athletes Foundation® (CAF) is a world leader in helping individuals with physical challenges get involved – and stay involved – in sports. CAF believes that participation in sports at any level increases self-esteem, encourages independence and enhances quality of life. Since 1994, more than $40 million has been raised and almost 7,000 funding requests from challenged athletes in all 50 states and dozens of countries have been satisfied. Additionally, CAF’s outreach efforts reach another 60,000 individuals each year. Whether it’s a $2,500 grant for a handcycle, helping underwrite a carbon fiber running foot not covered by insurance, or arranging enthusiastic encouragement from a mentor who has triumphed over a similar challenge, CAF’s mission is clear: give those with the desire to live active, athletic lifestyles every opportunity to compete in the sports they love. To learn more, log on to or call 858-866-0959.

For Challenged Athletes Foundation
Jenna Novotny
Office: 858-210-3528
Mobile: 619-985-6583
Tina Wilmott
Mobile: 858-876-4705

Source: Challenged Athletes Foundation