For Immediate Release -- May 9, 2008
Toyota-United Pro Cycling Team Makes Donation to Fallen Competitor Who Was Paralyzed at Tour of Gila
Team Will Auction off Signed Team Jersey on eBay to Raise Additional Funds
Bend, OR -- The Toyota-United Pro Cycling Team announced today that its riders and staff donated $5,000 cash to Fausto Munoz Esparza, the rider who was paralyzed in a horrific high-speed crash in the Sunday, May 4, final stage of the Tour of Gila in Silver City, New Mexico. The cash consists of the riders' prize money they earned over last week's 5-day Tour of Gila and staff donations.
In addition, Toyota-United will auction off a team jersey signed by all 14 riders on eBay beginning Monday, May 12 in order to provide the general public with an opportunity to show their support for Fausto and his family.
Esparza 33, a former Mexican Nation Champion and father of three children, is in critical but stable condition in the intensive care unit of El Paso's Thomason Hospital in Texas with a broken back which has left him paralyzed from the waist down. "He is very depressed and not sure what to make of this terrible situation. His wife, three children and parents have all come to El Paso to be by his side for the next three weeks until he gets out of the hospital" said Jose Manuel "Chepe" Garcia a Toyota-United rider and personal friend of Esparza.
"When I first heard how bad his accident was from Scott Moninger, (Asst. Team Director for Toyota-United) I immediately sprung into action and called Chepe who is a friend of Fausto's to see what was up. I could hear in his voice how upset he was and how Fausto is very depressed and makes his living racing a bike, which is no longer the case. Then Chepe told me how Fausto has three children and a wife to support. Being the Team Owner watching my riders risk everything each week and being married with a baby girl on the way in September, the whole situation really hit home for me. I then spoke with our riders and staff and we all agreed to do something for Fausto no matter how small it may be; but we want to start the ball rolling in hopes that other teams and fans will follow suit to help Fausto in his time of need" said Team Owner Sean Tucker.
Supporters may visit the Toyota-United website beginning Monday May 12th to link to an auction of a team jersey signed by all 14 members of the team to raise additional funds. www.toyota-united.com
In addition, people may make a private donation to:
Wells Fargo Bank
1201 N. Pope Street
Silver City, NM 88061
Attn: Fausto Munoz Esparza Donation Fund
Letters can be sent to:
Patient: Fausto Esparza, ICU/12
C/O Thomason Hospital
4815 Alameda Avenue
El Paso, TX 79905