Hi all, my name is Kayla and I’m a paraathlete who has directly benefitted from CAF.
When I suffered spinal cord injury in 2005, as a 21 yr old DIV I track and field athlete, my world was changed in an instant. At that time, I had no idea that parasports was a thing, or that there was a way to compete at an elite level.
This was one of the most difficult times of my life, and while in retrospect I’m so grateful for many of the things that have come out of this world shift, in the moment knowing there were groups out there to support athletics for those with disabilities would have been a game changer.
After 10 years as a high functioning spinal cord injured individual – still on my feet and competing in triathlons, backpacking, surfing, etc. – I was diagnosed with a secondary issue called Syringomyelia. This is a cyst that is on the spinal cord, where spinal fluid accumulates and compresses the cord. My condition is degenerative, and the two spinal cord surgeries since 2016 have not been able to stabilize my condition. Its not MS, but manifests very similarly and that’s the group of people I relate to most regarding symptoms and symptom management.
When I found myself as a wheelie, a local paratriathlete told me about CAF. A few meetings later and CAF had granted me funds to purchase my own hand cycle and had a racing wheelchair on the way to me.
It is because of CAF I got to compete in my rookie season of the paratriathlon in 2021. I’ll be there racing in October in full support of CAF and their programs.
What I ask of you today...
Please join me in empowering individuals with physical disabilities around the world through sports. The mission of the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF) is intricately tied to the challenges of our time - a global health pandemic, a devastating financial crisis, and ongoing social injustices. These challenges create even greater barriers for individuals with physical disabilities. To change this reality, it will take all of us.
Your donation to my fundraising goal will help provide challenged athletes in financial need with adaptive sports equipment, coaching, and training expenses. Additionally, your gift will support virtual and at-home resources that help challenged athletes of all ages and abilities stay active and motivated, at a time when sports and physical activity are needed more than ever.
Our efforts will help ensure that the most vulnerable population won’t be left behind. We’ll be creating opportunities for challenged athletes to be involved with adaptive sports, fitness, community connections, and inclusion in society’s health and wellness activities.
As a CAF supporter, I believe in the power of sport to empower lives, heal individuals and unite the world, especially in these times of crisis and conflict.