The power of perseverance now resonates through the streets of New York City, thanks to the energy and inspiration of the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF) Celebration of Heroes, Heart and Hope Gala (HHH Gala.)
As a major fundraiser for the CAF, the evening’s message of hope helped bring in more than $600,000 through sponsorship, a silent and live auction and ticket sales to help fulfill CAF’s unique mission. New York area CAF athletes and supporters, triathlon clubs and professional businessmen and women were on hand to honor Mark Holowesko, chief executive officer and chief investment officer of Holowesko Partners Ltd. and to recognize the athletic achievements of four outstanding physically challenged athletes.
“This year’s event surpassed all of our expectations,” Virginia Tinley, CAF’s executive director said in a press release. “Given the state of the economy, we were worried about folks’ willingness to give. But, our worries disappeared when the evening’s energy, passion and inspiring stories touched everyone’s heart.”
Highlights of the evening included professionally produced athlete profile videos, by Emmy-winning producers Lisa Lax and Nancy Stern. The Fund an Item Handcycle auction raised $100,000, while the Fund an Item Running Leg auction raised $141,000. Another highlight included the Ford Ironman Triathlon World Championship auction where two bidders battled for one slot. The winning bidder paid $30,000 for the slot. New to the event this year, CAF gave awards to four challenged athletes who embody the traits of a hero, demonstrate heart, give hope to others and display perseverance in the face of adversity.
CAF was proud to honor athletes Sam Cila, Deanna Babcock, David Gelf and Ricky James.
Hero award winner, Cila joined the New York National Guard after Sept. 11and was permanently injured in Iraq on July 4, 2005. After the transradial amputation, he continues to heal through sports.
Heart award winner, Babcock has been a competitive athlete her whole life. She was devastated when she lost her leg after a sudden cardiac arrest. Now with a new running foot, she’s back into sports and back into life.
The hope award winner was Gelf. Gelf was born with Proximal Femoral Focal Deficiency (PFFD), the same condition as Sarah Reinertsen – his idol. This young Weston, Ct. native offers hope to other physically challenged kids.
James was the Perseverance award winner. When a motocross accident went horribly wrong, he lost the use of his legs, but not his competitive spirit.
“I’d like to again congratulate each of the four award winners,” Scott Stackman, chairman of the HHH Gala Committee said. “Their courage and determination inspired every single one of the 500 attendees that evening. I couldn’t have been more proud of my affiliation with such an amazing organization and the athletes they support.”