According to a recent news release issued by the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF), its 9th annual Mazda Foundation Million Dollar Challenge kicked off October 11 and will conclude October 17. The event features more than 100 cyclists. This includes celebrities and professional athletes and eight athletes with physical challenges, all engaging in a 7-day, 620-mile ride down the California coastline.

The release notes that each of the participants has pledged to raise $12,500 or more to benefit CAF. Collectively, the participants have already raised more than $1,376,000—surpassing the $1 million goal—which will allow CAF to fund grants for adaptive sports equipment, training and competition expenses, as well as mentoring and sports clinics.

The Challenged Athletes Foundation is a nonprofit organization committed to assisting athletes with physical challenges in living full, active lives through sports and fitness.

Virginia Tinley, executive director, CAF, states that the event provides participants a high-end event comparable to the experience pro cyclists receive, “However, every year we are told it’s the opportunity to ride side-by-side with the challenged athletes that makes it a life-changing event.”

The event began at the Hyatt Regency Embarcadero Center in San Francisco. Cyclists will travel down the coast, stopping at six beach cities before arriving at Kellogg Park in La Jolla, Calif, October 17.

The release reports that participants in the event are eight challenged athletes, including Mary Roberts, a below knee amputee, and Jamie Whitmore, who was a professional mountain biker before her battle with cancer and loss of nerves/feeling in her left leg. Whitmore is now a Paralympic cycling hopeful.

The release states that additional riders include CAF ambassador and NBA Hall of Famer Bill Walton, retired pro-cyclist and event co-chairman Christian Vande Velde, retired pro-cyclist David Zabriskie, as well as pro-cyclists from Team Garmin-Sharp.

Vande Velde discusses his thoughts on the ride in this video

Sponsors for the event include Mazda Foundation, SKLZ, Qualcomm, YMCA of San Diego, Barracuda Networks, LifeProof, Jumble Bites, Precor, GU Energy, and ZICO Premium Coconut Water.

Photo Credit: Business Wire

Source: CAF