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Joshua "JJ" Miller participated in the Kids' Run at the 2010 Aspen Medical Products San Diego Triathlon Challenge (SDTC) a mere two months after recovering from open heart surgery. Joshua has endured many medical procedures in his short life. In addition to a serious congenital heart condition, JJ was born missing the tibias in his legs caused by a rare genetic disorder known as Mesometic Dysplasia with Hirschsprung's Disease. JJ's father is also a double above-knee amputee born with the same disorder. After being part of the 2010 SDTC, JJ's mother said, "Nothing has been able to hold him back since," and JJ became more involved with CAF, representing CAF in various presentations to help raise awareness of the foundation.
In the summer of 2011, JJ attended a camp where the Millers met a group of volunteers interested in JJ and his involvement with CAF. After learning about both JJ and the foundation, the volunteers, with JJ's parents, formed "Team JJ" - a fundraising team that raced in the 2011 SDTC and raised money for CAF in JJ's name.
"The whole event was a big confidence booster, even for us as parents," said Laura Miller, mother of the youngest participant - two and a half year old J.J. Miller. "I used to hide his [J.J.'s] legs from people in public and try to make him as inconspicuous as possible. At the triathlon, J.J. was a superstar and he was among others just like him. For that we are thankful." Read A Letter From JJ's Mom »
JJ was one of the 40 kids that participated in the Challenged Athletes Kids Run, a two-distance run that concludes with the kids crossing an actual finish line, most for the first-time. It was a sight that spectators will carry with them for years as the joy on the kids faces could change the world.
The Challenged Athletes Foundation's® (CAF) Aspen Medical Products San Diego Triathlon Challenge (SDTC) has a well-deserved reputation as "The Best Day in Triathlon" for a reason. It is the culmination of a year full of endurance-testing events and life-changing moments, and the day where able-bodied and challenged athletes alike come together to prove that the desire to push yourself lives inside each and every one of us - regardless of circumstance.
The SDTC is a celebration of abilities like no other in the world, featuring more than 200 challenged athletes, challenged kids, wounded troops and 500+ able-bodied athletes, celebrities, sports legends and professional athletes. Take on the new "challenge distance" triathlon with a 1-mile swim, 44-mile bike and 10-mile run; power through the 24 Hour Fitness Tour de Cove, a 4.5 hour stationary cycling marathon; or support CAF the low-impact way in the Kaiser Permanente Thrive 5-K Fitness walk. Whichever event you choose, be prepared to move and be moved by the stories you'll hear and the friends you'll make.
JJ and his family hope to continue representing CAF as JJ grows up and inspire others with disabilities. JJ's father who was also born without tibias says that he is inspired everyday by JJ's disposition and enthusiasm to run and be active.
A Letter From JJ's Mom
"Hi! I'm Joshua Miller and I'm three years old. I was at CAF." This is the extent of Joshua's autobiography without being prompted. Joshua was found at 20 months in utero to be missing his tibias on his legs due to a genetic condition that his father has as well. With the help of a geneticist we learned that the extremely rare condition is called Mesomelic Dysplasia with Hirschsprung's Disease. It was also learned a week later that Joshua had a serious congenital heart condition called double outlet right ventricle which was not related to the first diagnosis. There was not a guarantee that Joshua would survive birth and arrangements were made to deliver him at Loma Linda University Children's Medical Center where he could receive the best medical care. Joshua was born and spent 3 1/2 weeks in the NICU undergoing surgery for the Hirschsprung's and getting through some rough times.
Joshua has endured many medical procedures in his short life. He has had about 8 surgeries and one scary event that was a pivotal time was when he had to have open heart surgery to put in a shunt for a pulmonary stenosis. Complications were not expected but to our dismay Joshua needed CPR two times the following day after surgery. We were called to his bedside to find that doctors had been performing CPR on our sweet little baby for 30 minutes. It became apparent to us that we were called to his bedside in the chance that he wouldn't survive. Helpless and in shock all we could do was pray for our son. We are thankful to the Lord that he survived and that we will be able to raise him.
Doctors ran a gammet of tests to see if Joshua had any acute brain damage and observation of Joshua and follow-ups with nuerologists seem to indicate that there has been no lasting negative affects on his cognitive development. He had and still has eating issues stemming from the surgery, CPR, and or intubations. Joshua used an NG tube for nutrition for about 5 months and then had a Mickey G-tube for about 2 years because he stopped nursing, had a severe gag reflex, and vomiting issues.
In spite of all of the physical hardships, surgeries, hospital stays and pain that Joshua has had to endure we have seen that he is an exceptional little boy with a wonderful disposition. He is a spirited, enthusiastic, energetic, happy 3 year old that lights up the room when he enters it. People gravitate towards him and he is incredibly socialable. This past summer Joshua met some volunteers at a camp and after interacting with Joshua and hearing about CAF they were eager to help us with our vision. In July of 2011 Team JJ was officially formed in Joshua's name (Joshua James). Joshua has since participated in presentations to help raise money for CAF. Joshua has continued to improve walking with his prosthetics and recently received his first pair of feet and shoes. He participated in the Kids' Fun Run at this year's SDTC and he along with his entire team raised about $30,000 including entry fees.
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