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Challenged Athletes Foundation

ken wheatley 1San Diego, CA – June 27, 2016 – The Challenged Athletes Foundation® (CAF) has announced the hire of Ken Wheatley as its new CEO, effective immediately.

The San Diego-based organization provides opportunities and support to people with physical challenges, so they can pursue active lifestyles through physical fitness and competitive athletics. CAF believes that involvement in sports at any level increases self-esteem, encourages independence and enhances quality of life.

During the last eight months of serving as CAF’s interim CEO, CAF Board of Directors member Bill Geppert provided the leadership, knowledge and commitment to execute CAF’s strategic goals to further help challenged athletes worldwide, while spearheading the search for CAF’s permanent CEO.

“It was a privilege to have led such a wonderful organization, and I am grateful to the CAF Board of Directors and staff for allowing me the opportunity,” said CAF Interim CEO Bill Geppert. “I am excited to pass the baton to such an accomplished professional who will lead CAF into a bright future.”

Ken Wheatley joins the CAF team after holding numerous leadership roles. He retired as a Senior Vice President with Sony Electronics after a 24-year career, and prior to that he was an FBI Special Agent. He’s a 1995 LEAD San Diego graduate and has served on a number of Boards and international advisory groups, such as the Red Cross, the Boys and Girls Club, Chairman and President of the Mid-County Transportation Management Association, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, International Organization of Standards in Geneva, the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington DC, and President of the International Security Management Association. Most recently, he served for four years, as the Co-Director for the California Chapter of the Washington DC-based Lung Cancer Alliance nonprofit.

Wheatley graduated Summa Cum Laude with his Master’s degree from Webster University and received his undergraduate degree from Florida International University. He’s also attended senior executive education programs with the Harvard JFK School of Government, University of Michigan Business School, and Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

“I’m excited and deeply appreciative for the opportunity to join an organization that is positively changing the lives of thousands of people around the world,” said CAF CEO Ken Wheatley. “CAF has a great history, and I look forward to continue to support and execute its mission to help get individuals with physical challenges back into the game of life through sports and physical fitness.”

Dear Life,

Ten years ago, Stuart and I went to the doctor to find out what the gender was of our fifth child.  We were so excited! After having four boys, we were secretly hoping for a girl, but absolutely knew that having a fifth boy would be awesome! Driving to the ultrasound, we talked about names, and about the vacation we had planned the following week.

I was asked to come in by myself by the ultrasound tech so she could do measurements. Stuart sat outside and waited for that. With my full bladder, I waited, and waited, and waited. I didn’t suspect anything, although I did wonder why she wasn’t showing me the monitor. After quite a long while, she said she would get Stuart and the doctor.

Stuart came in, sat next to me, held my hand, and watched the doctor move the ultrasound camera all around. He watched him take extra care around the baby’s heart. The doctor was silent, and I started to get a little nervous. I didn’t understand what was going on. Stuart squeezed my hand, and kept watching the monitor.

Finally, the doctor put the ultrasound camera down for a moment, and said those fateful words “I’m sorry to tell you this, but the fetus has a birth defect called Spina Bifida.  There are signs of hydrocephalus as well as club feet on both feet.” The gender was quickly forgotten by the staff. They were only worried about one thing: letting us know that if we moved quickly we could terminate our pregnancy.

We were shocked. He let us know what to expect with a child with this disability. Words like retarded, disabled, poor quality of life, possible shorter life span, multiple surgeries, multiple hospital stays, and infections were introduced and burned our souls. We wept for our child, the child we wanted desperately.kumaka 3

We still didn’t know the gender of our child at this point. Through my tears, I said “We are keeping our baby.  This is our BABY, not a fetus.  Please tell me if the baby is a boy or a girl.”

He said “The fetus is a boy”. I had to ask the doctor for a photo before he left. They printed one of his face—as if we would be so disturbed by the baby’s disability.

We were never told what our child would be able to do. Just a lot of what he wouldn’t.

Thankfully, we didn’t listen to that doctor.

We did research Spina Bifida online (Not our smartest choice).
We educated ourselves the best we could.
We reached out to others that had children with Spina Bifida.
We had our baby.

(Kumakalehua is Stuart’s Hawaiian name, and means strength or foundation of the home)
He defied the odds at birth.
He left the hospital after six days.
There were times of difficulty, surgeries, casts, infections.

But there was also joy, and happiness. At three, Kumaka was working hard in therapy and watching videos of Aaron Fotheringham on YouTube. At four, he had a pivotal moment in his young life.
He had hip surgery on both hips.

We reached out to Aaron Fotheringham who came to our house to visit our boy.

Aaron told his friend Christiaan Otter Bailey about Kumaka, and they met that summer. Christiaan saw the big heavy chair Kumaka was in and said that wasn’t going to do. He asked Mike Box if Kumaka could borrow a Mini Box chair, just to see what he could do.

What wouldn’t he do?

Over the next four years, Kumaka would ride the skate parks, surf waves, shoot at the basketball courts, wheel 5K’s, slide down the slopes on a monoski, ride a bike with his brothers, and even play soccer.  He has become an athlete, a doer, a go-getter. He tries everything. He is brave, fearless, and JOYFUL.

How does he do all of these things? Because people believe in him. People like his mentor Christiaan. People like Mike Box. Organizations like Challenged Athletes Foundation.

This October, Kumaka is wheeling the running leg of the Challenged Athletes Foundation Triathlon.  Daniel Riley, a Marine Veteran, amazing surfer, and monoskier is swimming on his team, and Tracie, a wonderful athlete and teacher is doing the bike.  Their team has set a lofty goal—to raise $10,000 for Challenged Athletes Foundation.  WHY SO MUCH?  Because they grant dreams.  They allow kids that are in wheelchairs, kids that have prosthetics, and Veterans that have come home after tragedies to be athletes: TO BELIEVE THEY CAN DO ANYTHING.  There is NOTHING more valuable in life than that. Below you will find the link to Kumaka’s page.  ANY AMOUNT YOU CAN DONATE will grant DREAMS. #TeamCAF



Be a life changer.

Grant dreams.

We were told all the things Kumaka couldn’t do.

We were never told the possibilities. 

Mom of Boys Logo

Hola One One State Street Mile
The HOKA One One State Street Mile is being held in Santa Barbara on Sunday, June 5th and for the first time ever – it will feature a Challenged Athletes Division!

The State Street Mile is a fast, downhill mile course in beautiful downtown Santa Barbara. Challenged Athletes Foundation invites you to register for the race to represent CAF and Challenged Athletes everywhere in this fun, fast race that benefits the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office Victim Witness Assistance Program.

Who: Amputee Runners
What: State Street Mile
When: Sunday, June 5th starting at 8 am with 7 age group categories, starting in 10 minute intervals.
Where: State Street & W. Pedrogosa Street in Santa Barbara
Why: It will be fun. You can help personify and share the mission of CAF. PRIZE MONEY for the top three finishers.

To register, please use this link:

For more information about the race, go to:

We hope to have a great turnout and CAF will have a booth at the expo, so stop by and hang out with other Challenged Athletes. The race is less than a month away, so register soon. Feel free to contact me with any questions and thank you for your support of CAF!

Because of you, a record breaking number of grants were awarded in 2016 – 2,098 to be exact. 2,098 lives have been changed forever. This grant season we welcomed the Team CAF Class of 2016. This class is more than just athletes. We are volunteers, we are sponsors, we are families, and we are supporters.

Above all, we redefine what’s possible. We are Team CAF. 

Follow your team on social media by using #TeamCAF

Adaptive Programs at the Deni & Jeff Jacobs Challenged Athlete Center

Adaptive Yoga 

Adaptive yoga strengthens the connection between the mind and the body. Benefits include increased flexibility, greater sense of balance, increased strength, mental clarity, and overall well-being. This adaptive class, led by Alisha Welch, focuses on individuals living with mobility disabilities, such as partial or total paralysis, amputation, severe spinal cord injury, severe arthritis, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, head injury, spina bifida and cerebral palsy. In addition to her 12 years of yoga studies, Alisha has received an Adaptive Yoga teacher training certification from Matthew Sanford. She expects to continue to learn and share his teachings with students in the disabled community.


Adaptive Strength & Conditioning 

Adaptive Performance Systems (APS) offers the only completely customized, high-intensity training programs for adaptive athletes so you can perform at your highest levels, physically and mentally, for enhanced mobility and athletic excellence. Our world-class training programs are specially designed for amputees and wheelchair athletes and are exactly what separates us from all other fitness trainers in the industry. We effectively retrain and reclaim all the physical ability an amputation or traumatic injury disrupts on a daily basis.

Our workshop series, held at Challenged Athletes Foundation, offers a step-by-step coaching program designed to help re-master fundamental movement, target weak links, and maximize your physical potential. Whether you are a beginner in a prosthesis for the first time or an elite Paralympic athlete, you will walk away from the CAF APS Strength & Conditioning Clinic with hands-on, personalized techniques that you can start using today to improve your strength, mobility, athletic performance and overall physical wellness.

This class will be limited to 8 participants, so sign up today!


Adaptive Self-Defense 

Fighting should be avoided as much as possible. However, if a situation should turn violent or aggressive, the easy-to-learn practical self-defense techniques taught in this class are perfect for you. Greg Fraser has been instructing basic to advanced self-defense for many years and is considered one of the best in San Diego County. He has designed this clinic to help people with any physical challenge – including wheelchair users – learn how to better protect themselves. The class will include instruction on assessing the situation and performing safe self-defense moves.


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