For amputees like myself back in the late 1970’s, all the focus was on just being able to walk. Just plain old walking. Being able to ambulate from point A to point B (safely) was the most that one could expect from those heavy clunky prosthetic legs. They were basically wooden sticks carved into the shape of a human leg. I hated them. There was nothing cool about them other than the fact that I could stand in the freezing cold snow longer than my friends. Then came the advent of the Flex Foot. With its carbon fiber design and energy returning properties, amputees discovered a world of activities that they never knew were possible. Now they could run faster and jump higher. More and more prosthetic foot companies began developing feet which were even more dynamic and springier than the Flex Foot, allowing the user to perform at world record levels. Also with the new feet came new prosthetic socket designs, suspension systems, shock absorbers and components that would create a new classification of amputee; the high performance amputee athlete.
No longer viewed as or labeled “handicapped,” amputees and other adaptive athletes could now train and compete at organized athletic sporting events all across the world. Numerous non profit organizations were born to assist the adaptive athlete with funding for training and specialized equipment. One of the more popular foundations is the Challenged Athletes Foundation. Since 1997, the CAF grew out of a desire to assist one amputee athlete who was paralyzed in a second accident. Since that time, the CAF has raised over $50 million dollars and supported the athletic goals of more than 8000 athletes worldwide. Most importantly they’ve shown challenged athletes young and old that anything is possible.
Each year in October the CAF hosts the Aspen Medical Products San Diego Triathlon Challenge in La Jolla Cove California. Touted as the “Best Day In Tri,” the event consists of a 1 mile swim in the ocean (NOT), a 10 mile run and a 44 mile bike ride. There’s also a 5K fun run and the 24 Hour Fitness Tour De Cove, a 4.5 hour stationary cycling marathon adventure overlooking beautiful La Jolla Cove. I got a chance to attend the event as a spectator and was inspired by the hundreds of challenged athletes who came from all over the world to compete. Please enjoy and be inspired by the accompanied video log of the 2015 Challenged Athletes Foundation San Diego Triathlon. http://www.challengedathletes.org.