Challenged Athletes Foundation
Dr. Jeffrey P. Anthony, San Diego Sports Medicine and Family Health Center
Changing lives, one athlete at a time. This is the mission statement of the wonderful organization, Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF) established in San Diego, CA. The organization was started in 1997 out of desire to help one athlete who was first paraplegic then quadriplegic from a triathalon race. The organization and its staff work as a team to benefit challenged athletes to compete. Part of the CAF team includes our AOASM Past President, Jeffrey P. Anthony D.O.
Dr. Anthony first got involved with the organization when he fractured his ankle and was looking for non-weight bearing exercises to help rehabilitate his ankle. Dr. Anthony has served as the team physician for CAF and has competed in the 620-mile race for seven consecutive years! The course is designed to allow athletes to race 80-130 miles per day from San Francisco to San Diego and stay in hotels along the way. There are at least 100 cyclists and they each raise $10,000 to benefit challenged athletes. The course is known as the Million Dollar Challenge. The hard-earned money then goes to CAF to help support athletes and in turn the CAF provides annual funding to approximately 33% of the challenged athletes who compete in the United States Paralympic Games.
The Paralympic Games is a major international multi-sport event, involving athletes with a range of physical and intellectual disabilities, including mobility disabilities, amputations, blindness, and cerebral palsy. There are Winter and Summer Paralympic Games, which since the 1988 Summer Games in Seoul, South Korea, are held immediately following the respective Olympic Games.
With the ups and downs of this challenging course, Dr. Anthony continues to hold one memory close to his heart. The experience included a paraplegic athlete that was half way through the race and had one last steep hill to complete before the day’s activities were over. The cyclist announced he was so tired, his body was so fatigued and that he could not complete the last hill. The cyclist had almost given up for the day. Suddenly, a race leader immediately jumped off his bike to help the cyclist complete the steep hill. The race leader pushed the challenged athlete all the way up the hill. At the top of the hill, the race leader and challenged athlete were greeted by fellow teammates praising him for not giving up.
Dr. Anthony provides advice to physicians and medical staff covering any challenged athlete events: “ Be humble and be at the event to serve others with a true heart.”
In the spirit of the Winter Olympics, let us reflect that the practice of sport is a human right. Every individual must have the possibility of practicing a sport, without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.