Jim MacLaren was an outstanding athlete at Yale University, especially in lacrosse and football. Running was a something of a gift of his, but after a motorcycle accident in 1985, he lost his left leg below the knee and nearly died. Remarkably, he went on not only to recover, but to run a marathon in 3 hours and 16 minutes and to complete the Hawaiian Ironman in 10 hours and 42 minutes.

However, his resilience would be tested again in 1993 when, during the Orange County Triathlon, a van hit him during the cycle portion of the race and he collided with a sign post, rendering him a quadriplegic.

A few members of the endurance sports community raised funds so that he could buy a vehicle – a van – that he could drive with his hands. This fundraiser raised far more than expected and from this drive, the Challenged Athletes Foundation was born and to date has grown so big that it has raised over $53 million in aiding athletes with similar physical challenges continue or progress in active sporting life. 

Today, Spartan Race announced its official charity partnership with Challenged Athletes Foundation.

“When you meet a CAF athlete, you can’t help and feel their determination to face their adversity with pride and a smile….this is inspiring beyond belief” said Joe De Sena, Founder and CEO of Spartan Race. “We see challenged athletes on our course more and more; we are not only honored to assist in raising funds for CAF but also happy to have a partner that shares in our philosophy that involvement in sports at any level increases self-esteem, encourages independence and enhances quality of life.”

To suggest that CAF changes people’s lives would be an understatement. Supporting all walks of life from wounded troops to children and first responders, CAF has it covered. In actual fact, Challenged Athletes Foundation supported 33% of the USA Paralympic Team in Sochi for the 2014 winter games, in which they won 18 medals, two of which were gold.

Another feather in the CAF cap is its program, Operation Rebound. This program is the premier sports and fitness program for American military personnel, veterans and first responders with permanent physical disabilities.  It provides unparalleled opportunities to pursue active, athletic lifestyles by offering access to funding for equipment, training, competition expenses, sports clinics and mentoring activities. This helps troops and first responders to harness the healing power of sport, whether the goal is podium gold or riding a bike around the block with their kids.

This partnership, which starts today, will see Spartan Race raise funds for CAF through various means including the online registration pages, event activations and various media and marketing campaigns. Naturally, raising awareness and funding of the charity and those it helps is the main intention of the partnership. Spartan Race is very excited to share the news that CAF will coordinate not only grant presentations at a selected number of Spartan Race events, but will help in bringing athletes to the events to compete.

So far, just from that one small fundraiser to buy a van, CAF has gone on to raise some $53 million, has helped with  over 9,500 funding requests across not just all states of America, but in dozens of countries, too.

CAF’s signature event – The San Diego Triathlon Challenge – last year attracted over 5,000 visitors and boasted a fantastic 1 mile swim, 44 mile ride and 10 mile run for the competitors to test their mettle.

“It was an important goal in seeking a charity partner to find an organization that was aligned with our mission to change people’s lives through physical activity” said Coleen McManus, Charity Development Director at Spartan.

So we’d like the Spartan Race community to welcome Challenge Athlete Foundation to the family and urge you to check out their website here.

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