We want to tell you about one of our favorite charities - The Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF). CAF is built around helping people with physical challenges live the active life they want to live. One of the events this amazing organization puts on is the Million Dollar Challenge (MDC) with a goal of raising $1 million dollars to support challenged athletes everywhere. It consists of a seven-day long bicycle ride traveling the 620 miles along California’s beautiful coastline from San Francisco to San Diego. This year the event took place from October 15 to October 21. Action Wipes have been a part of this ride for the last 4 years, providing the riders a refreshing cool down during their lunch spots. They are especially helpful to the hand cyclists, that ride low to the ground and have dust and oil masking their face at each stop.
CAF supports each MDC rider with a 20-week training program, accommodations, amenities, and apparel. This year, there were 120 total riders including 14 challenged athletes themselves, several on hand cycled bikes. These athletes show their spirit and determination by going against the odds and completing this intense bike ride. It is such a large inspiration to see this event and the people involved.
This year, there was one day where it rained and the winds were blowing so hard that multiple bikers were blown off the road, and for safety reasons had to stop riding and get inside a vehicle. Julia Duggan is an event manager for MDC. She said, “The riders were amazing through the storm, they gritted it out and I feel like they made the right calls when they needed to - when it was no longer fun nor safe and they needed to get in a vehicle.” We are glad all the athletes are safe after that extremely difficult day.
Even though the winds were terrible, one challenged athlete, Eric Northbrook, rode every mile that day. Duggan said, “He stuck with it, he came in after dark with a vehicle with lights on him because he had to do every mile. And we were just blown away by him.” This was Northbrook’s second MDC, with a goal to complete every single mile of this challenge. He told us the way he keeps going is because of “my inner drive. I want to achieve my goal.” He had a vehicle behind him the entire way. His driver and wife, Anny said, “we stay right behind him with our flashers on, especially in the fog and the rain when nobody can see him, we stay right behind him just for safety.” In speaking with Eric and Anny, you can’t help but feel proud of them and be inspired as well - we want to thank Eric for being an amazing inspiration.
Some of the non-challenged athletes still find huge motivation from this event. Richard Whittington is a long-term rider, this was his 8th MDC, who finds his motivation from “challenged athletes and the willingness to keep going and the fact that they are out here.” He said right from the beginning everyone was welcoming to him. Kristie Boltz is another long-term rider, this was her 6th year in the MDC, and she mentioned a great life lesson for us all, “you have to do something bigger than yourself.” She was riding this year for her young nephew, Lucas - she and her team (who flew out for the ride from Utah) raised $50,000.
Not only do riders gain a phenomenal sense of accomplishment and pride from this event, people who volunteer and work MDC are full of inspiration as well. Dr. Mike McHale who is a rider and part of the medical staff said, “When they finish their day on the hand cycle, it doesn’t end. They then have to cycle themselves using their arms and their hands to the shower, back into the car, to wherever. They are just pretty incredible people.”
This just gives you an eye opener into the reality of the world. Dr. McHale is right, they are incredible people. No one can capture that better than the CAF photographer Wil Mathews who said, “they’re always in such a positive mindset and there is such a takeaway from that at the end of the week, it reinforces that every day is a good day.” Indeed Wil, indeed!