Challenged Athletes Foundation Raises Over $530,000 to Empower the Next Generation of Challenged Athletes

A Celebration of Heart Gala at SF MOMA Celebrates Paralympians and Local Challenged Athletes in Northern California

San Francisco, CA, March 06, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF) raised over $530,000 at its third annual A Celebration of Heart Gala on Wednesday, March 4 at SFMOMA.

The heart-filled evening united the Bay Area community to salute Paralympic hopefuls and honor local youth adaptive athletes. More than 350 supporters, athletes, Bay Area business leaders and celebrities embraced the night’s theme, “Together in Sport,” to empower more individuals with physical challenges to pursue an active lifestyle.

Featured guests included LPGA pro golfer Michelle Wie West and husband, Jonnie West, Director Basketball Operations of the Golden State Warriors. Also, Jim Mora Jr, former NFL and PAC-12 coach joined several other supporters across sports, technology, business, and philanthropy to experience CAF and the power of sport.

NBC Sports broadcasters, Therese Viñal (Host, SF Giants) and Laura Britt (Host, SF 49ers coverage) led the inspirational program showing how CAF is impacting lives in the Bay Area and beyond to fund grants, host adaptive sports camps and clinics, empower injured military veterans and create an inclusive community.

Attendees were moved with inspiration as they sat among several Paralympians on the road to Tokyo. Jamie Whitmore (Para-cycling), Jorge Sanchez (Wheelchair Basketball), Trooper Johnson (Coach, Women’s Wheelchair Basketball) and Scout Bassett (Track and Field) received a special recognition in the middle of the program.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity to share my journey with so many people who probably don’t realize how much they are a part of it. I am where I am today as a result of the generosity of people who believe in supporting CAF so that people like me can continue to participate in sports competitions or for fun,” said Whitmore, a former pro-XTERRA triathlete until she was diagnosed with cancer in 2008. The cancer resulted in partial paralysis in her lower left leg. CAF gave Jamie her first grant to afford an AFO cycling brace and has continued to support her with the necessary equipment to compete at the highest level possible. Jamie competed in her first Paralympic Games in 2016 and took home the gold medal for para-cycling.

At the gala, local youth athletes and CAF grant recipients Breezy Bochenek (18), Devan Watkins (12) and Kate Roe (8) took the stage as featured athletes.

“CAF gave me hope and an understanding of what was possible” said Breezy, who at the age of 8 was diagnosed with osteosarcoma and had her left leg amputated above the knee. “Now, I feel like I am the voice telling others there’s nothing you can’t do.” Breezy not only impressed guests with her inspiring story of positivity and athleticism, she moved the crowd as she sang Lauren Daigle’s “You Say” in the middle of the program.

Event co-chair and CAF board member, Alan Shanken, is a congenital below-knee amputee and knows first-hand how beneficial and empowering sports can be. “Tonight, we’re coming together to celebrate the benefits of sports and to ensure that anyone who wants to play, is not held back by a lack of funding or knowledge. Life would not be complete without helping others.” Shanken shared. “Our vision for the Bay Area is to raise the bar on impacting lives.”

Guests were entertained by local country-soul band, The Well Known Strangers and celebrated with a craft beer tasting sponsored by Stone Brewery.

There is still time to donate to the event to support challenged athletes in the Bay Area and beyond, visit to make a contribution to CAF and its programs.


Event Committee:

Allison Caccoma and Alan Shanken and Lotte and Charlie Moore

Committee Members:

Rosemary Baker & David Jochim, Mark Bregman, Kristin Roth DeClark & Kirk DeClark, Naomi Fliflet, Chris Golec, Staci Hartman, Sabrina & Mick Hellman, Michael & Julie Hughes, Sarah Kowalczyk, Tony Lee, Mike & Alison Mauze, Stephanie & Bill Mellin, Kristina Pollak, Stacy & Mark Nelson, Arthur Romero & Rebecca Chia, Bob Spinner


PRESS KIT:  Celebration of Heart 2020 Images & B-ROLL


About the Challenged Athletes Foundation

The Challenged Athletes Foundation® (CAF) is a world leader in helping people with physical challenges lead active, healthy lifestyles. CAF believes that participation in physical activity at any level increases self-esteem, encourages independence and enhances quality of life.  Since 1994, more than $112 million has been raised and over 26,000 funding requests from people with physical challenges in all 50 states and dozens of countries have been satisfied. Additionally, CAF’s outreach efforts impact another 60,000 individuals each year. Whether it’s a $2,500 grant for a handcycle, helping underwrite a carbon fiber running foot not covered by insurance, or arranging enthusiastic encouragement from a mentor who has triumphed over a similar challenge, CAF’s mission is clear: give opportunities and support to those with the desire to live active, athletic lifestyles. To learn more, visit or call 858-866-0959.



(Left to Right). SF 49ers host Laura Britt poses with Steve Serio, Team USA's Mens Wheelchair Basketball Co-Captian,  Devan Watkins, 12-year-old CAF Grantee from Menlo Park, Jorge Sanchez, Team USA Wheelchair Basketball player and Therese Viñal, SF Giants sportscaster.

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