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The Challenged Athletes Foundation® (CAF) is proud to announce the formation of the CAF Elite Paratriathlon Team. The Team will focus on the development of top performing U.S. paratriathletes in anticipation of the sport's inaugural inclusion at the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games. The Team has selected seven CAF-supported physically challenged athletes for its inaugural season - including both male and female athletes from a variety of disability classes - based on past performance in national and international paratriathlon races, growth potential within the sport, and their ability to represent CAF's mission on a national and global stage.
Clockwise: JP Theberge, Mark Barr, Jamie Brown, Thomas Cain, Patricia Walsh, Sarah Reinertsen, Andre Kajlich
Mark Barr lost his leg to a tumor when he was 14 years old. He had been swimming competitively since he was four years old and, up until his amputation, also played baseball and soccer. While going through chemotherapy, Barr was introduced to swimming as a way of cheering him up and he has gone on to become a strong member of the Paralympic Team and a competitive CAF athlete.
Jamie was born missing his fibula on his right leg and three fingers on his right hand due to a congenital birth defect. His parents decided to amputate his leg to give him the best change at living a normal and active life just like other young boys. He went on to excel at baseball and earned a college scholarship at Chapman University and played in the College Baseball World Series. After Jamie was introduced to CAF, he attended the San Diego Triathlon Challenge and fell in love with the sport of triathlon.
Andre was about to take the train home one night while studying abroad in Prague, when he fell onto the train track and was hit by an on-coming train. Andre lost both his legs above the knee and suffered numerous other injuries from the accident. His accident never hindered his spirit and after learning about CAF, Andre has become an elite level paratriathlete.
Missing her leg above the knee since the age of seven, Sarah Reinertsen has never let that stop her from pursing any challenge to meet her goals. Through her multi-media presentation, Sarah shares her story and motivates others to realize their potential. Sarah speaks about goal setting, how to face fear, overcome setbacks, and dares us all to dream big as the first female amputee to complete an IRONMAN.
At the age of 24, JP was struck by a car while riding his motorcycle through an intersection. JP was forced to make a life altering decision and opted to amputate his leg below the knee in order to live the active life he dreamed of. After a year of learning how to walk on a prosthetic, JP went to Lake Tahoe, CA and learned how to snowboard for the first time. He did better than many of his able-bodied friends and knew his potential in sports was endless.
Patricia became blind at age five due to complications of surgery for a severe pediatric brain tumor. She struggled with depression and hopelessness throughout her teenage years until she became active in sports and now competes in triathlon with a guide. Patricia is a world champion triathlete and award-winning engineer becoming one of the first blind engineers at Microsoft.
Thomas was born without the lower part of his right arm, and although things were harder for him, it has not held him back. As he got older, Thomas grew in his love for sports. In his early teens, his swim coach introduced him to CAF where he attended a swim clinic and triathlon camp. After exceling in the 2011 San Diego Triathlon Challenge, Thomas is committed to growing in the sport and excited for the opportunities it will bring.
The CAF Elite Team recently participated in their first race, the International Triathlon Union (ITU) World Triathlon in San Diego and inspired many. Their upcoming race schedule is as follows:
- May 26-28, 2013 - Captex Tri, Austin TX
- July 14, 2013 - NYC Tri, New York, NY
- September 11-15, 2013 - ITU Worlds, London
- October 20, 2013 - CAF San Diego Triathlon Challenge
It is through the valued contributions and donations of our supporters that CAF is able to provide this unique opportunity to seven extraordinary athletes who will strive for the podium and inspire a new generation of challenged athletes, proving that despite life's challenges, anything is possible.