Changing lives… The phrase perfectly encapsulates what San Diego’s Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF) does for so many.
Since 1995, CAF has supported more than 8,000 individuals with physical challenges who want to pursue active lifestyles through physical fitness and competitive athletics. But that number doesn’t even begin tell the full story of the local impact CAF has made.
CAF was built on the purpose of helping those who face adversity. What started as a group of San Diegans raising money to support a single man named Jim MacLaren, has now evolved into one of the most inspiring organizational success stories in the region.
“When you hear the personal stories of our athletes, you start to understand the impact philanthropy can have on a person and a community,” shared Bill Geppert, Board Member and interim CEO.
Through donor support, CAF is able to provide athletic equipment, training programs and clinics, mentorship, and much more to individuals living with physical challenges.
Finding Purpose Through Perseverance
One such athlete is Jeremy Poincenot. Due to a rare genetic disorder called Leber’s Hereditary Optic Neuropathy, Jeremy experienced sudden loss in his vision during his sophomore year at San Diego State University.
An avid golfer, Jeremy grew up playing the sport with his father every Sunday. After losing his sight, he feared his days of stepping onto a golf course were over.
“Golf is such a visual sport,” explained Jeremy. “You have to see the hole and picture your shot in order to excel. After I lost my vision, I just assumed there was no way I could ever play again.”
That’s when CAF stepped in. Thanks to the urging of his mother, Jeremy connected with CAF and the US Blind Golf Association to continue pursuing his passion for the game.
Today, Jeremy can proudly say he is a World Blind Golf Champion after surprising everyone in 2010 and winning the competition, just two years after going blind. All of which was accomplished with his father by his side as his teammate and guide.
Impacting Lives While Touching Hearts
CAF provides an opportunity for individuals to make a significant impact in the community, both for themselves and for those involved. Through stories of dedication, resiliency and success, both athletes and donors are inspired.
Bill said it best: “Jeremy’s story is one of so many that have touched my life since I first became involved with CAF. There are hundreds and thousands more people waiting to pursue their dreams just like Jeremy, and with more donor support, we hope to make those dreams a reality.”
He continued “Each of the athletes helped by CAF has a story, and from afar it’s easy to assume CAF is changing their lives. But the truth is that these athletes are changing the lives of each donor they meet.”
CAF is hoping to grow its impact and help a record number of athletes in 2016. Thanks to the current holiday matching campaign and annual donor support, CAF believes it will reach its goal and continue to serve as a pillar of support for San Diego challenged athletes by providing life changing-, quality of life-building programs for our community.