For 26 years, the San Diego-based Challenged Athletes Foundation has been helping people with physical challenges participate in athletics and this year, CAF has gone bigger than ever.
In 2020, CAF will be distributing 3,921 individual grants to empower athletes around the world, making it the largest single-year grant distribution in the program's 26-year history.
The grants will go to individuals around the world with physical disabilities to help offset the expenses for adaptive sports equipment, training and competition. The total value of the grants represent $5.9 million of support. Those receiving the grants come from 50 states and 42 countries, so it’s truly a global effort of good.
“Our unique grant program brings a beacon of hope and positive impact to thousands of challenged athletes around the world. Over the past year, our supporters, grant funders, fundraisers and corporate partners have helped raise critical funds to make this possible,” said Virginia Tinley, CAF Chief Executive Director. “Our largest grant distribution in history comes at a critical time when these life-changing grants will be needed more than ever.”
Each individual receiving the grant has a unique, personal story and for many without this critical funding, participation in sports would be unattainable due to the high cost of adaptive sports equipment and limited opportunities to practice and compete. From first-time applicants to elite athletes playing at the highest level of their sport, the 2020 grant recipients range from 3 to 95 years old.
One of this year's CAF grant recipients is Heather Foster of San Diego. In 2019, complications from the flu left Heather fighting for her life in the hospital. Doctors saved her life, but they couldn’t save her legs, which were both ultimately amputated.
It was a struggle, but Heather slowly adjusted to life with prosthetic walking legs. However, she had a bigger goal than just walking again, she wanted to run on the beach with one person in particular.
“I want to run on the beach with my daughter, that’s my dream, I want to run with her on the beach one day,” said Heather fighting back tears as she shared her dream.
Heather has a young daughter named Hailey, and thanks to CAF, Heather and Hailey will soon be running on the beach, CAF and Ossur Prosthetics are teaming up to give Heather running blades.
Her dream of running on the beach with her daughter will become a reality thanks to CAF.