By: Heather Rose
The Challenged Athletes Foundation is an amazing organization. We drove 24 hours to be there for Abel’s first Aspen Medical Products San Diego Triathlon Challenge. The first night’s dinner was fabulous and laid back, just like being with family. It was incredible to meet the amazing athletes, their families, and to be in California, a beautiful place we had never been. I can say we already miss it and are ready to go back. Abel enjoyed all the kids running about and playing.
After dinner the kids took off and played in the game trucks. Abel and Ella made some awesome new friends: Alana and Carolyn. All the parents had a great meet and greet with athletes from the Paralympics and the parents of the other athletes, which gave everyone more perspective. Parents were able to ask questions and get the answers they needed. It was very informative.
Friday was the awesome surf clinic and swim. The beautiful weather and all the kids playing and talking was a great sight to see. All the kids loved the surfing. Proud moments were born watching these kids get up on the board and take that wave. The smiles from that experience will carry on for years.
After that, was the welcoming of the Million Dollar Challenge riders and a picnic. Watching all these families welcome their riders home was a touching moment. We got to meet all the families as the kids played games. Abel played his little heart out and made great new friends for life. This was also his first time playing t-ball and golf. We also attended a great dinner that night. It was more up style and buffet style foods which was great for the kids. Awards followed for the amazing athletes.
Saturday’s events were so awesome to watch and very memorable even though we didn’t participate. Abel enjoyed watching his new friends and cheering them on. Then it was off to the CAF headquarters for the runners to sign in for the triathlon. Abel got to sit in his very first racing chair and guess what, he’s hooked. We stayed around and talked with other people and families.
I was told Sunday is the “big day.” Boy they weren’t kidding, “big” is an understatement. This thing is huge. What an amazing event. Thousands of people making their way around, both seeing and cheering on athletes. There were activities for all the kids to enjoy, which Ella loved. Once again, the weather was amazing. Touching stories were told and life changing experiences were had.
Wrapping things up I will say we are so thankful for this wonderful organization. With it, they are changing the world and helping kids and adults no matter the ability. We departed there sad to leave all the wonderful families we had met and the amazing staff of CAF. But the happiness of these events and the welcoming, kind-hearted staff has made our hearts full and given us even more hope for the future.
Special shout out to Carolyn Odom and Travis Ricks for making sure we were where we should be and made everything very comfortable. We miss you guys! So happy you both are a part of Abel’s Journey.