I attended to the Challenged Athletes Foundation Charity Poker Tournament (thanks to Chris Butcher for the invitation and accommodation) and was humbled after meeting some of the most amazing people we had ever had the privilege of spending time with, including a blind golfer, a one-legged marathon runner, and an incomplete paraplegic tri-athlete who just conquered the Great Wall of China.
A wife, mother, nurse, Certified Personal Trainer, and USA Tri-athalon Coach, a fall from her bicycle while training for a full Ironman nine years ago rendered Beth Sanden an incomplete paraplegic. Since then, she has completed over 24 Marathons (including the Boston Marathon in 2010 and the Great Wall of China Marathon 2011) and 53 tri-athalons. Beth has been awarded the “Volunteer Coach of the Year,” for 2010 by the United States Olympic Committee and USA Tri-athalon her pro-bono work with physically challenged youth and young adults.
At the age of seven months, Ralph Pieplenbos contracted Polio, loosing the use of his legs at an unimaginable early age. Believing he would sooner see pigs fly before ever competing in sports, Ralph went on to a successful creative career with Disney. Having seen an elephant fly, Ralph eventually found that nothing is impossible. He now is a competitive athlete and an outspoken advocate and mentor for disabled athletes.
Shelby Madden was born with a rare form of dwarfism called SMD-K. Shelby began competing in tri-athalons in 2007. With the help of a CAF grant to purchase a custom fit bike, she was given the equipment she needed in order to participate in the 2010 Million Dollar Challenge benefiting CAF. she successfully completed each and every one of those 620 miles and personally raised over $15,000 for other challenged athlete.
Scout Bassett was abandoned in a Chinese orphanage after surviving a fire in her first year of life. She endured hardship, abuse and child labor, but at the age of seven, was adopted by an American family. Currently in her fourth year at UCLA, Scout is a highly competitive and well decorated triathlete. Scout a CAF spokesperson and is a competing member of the USA Paratriathalon Team. Her story is best told in her own words.
While attending San Diego State University, Jeremy Poincenot discovered that the sudden loss of his vision was the result of a rare genetic disorder called Leber’s Hereditary Optic Neuropathy (LHON). An avid cyclist and golfer, Jeremy assumed losing his vision mean losing his ability to enjoy the actives he loved. He was wrong. He learned that he could still compete in cycling on a tandem bike. Ralph and his fraternity brothers have since founded Cycling Under Reduced Eyesight to raise awareness and funding for LHON research. He also learned that with a guide he could still play competitive golf. Last summer, he represented the US in the World Blind Gold Championships and won the event with a dramatic playoff chip-in. Last January, he also participated in the Farmers Insurance Pro-Am at Torrey Pines, where his team placed second and is a spokesperson for blind golf. Ralph tell his story in this video.