San Diego, Calif - Some of the world's most accomplished and inspirational physically challenged athletes will take center stage at the Waldorf=Astoria in New York City for the third annual A Celebration of Heroes, Heart and Hope gala (Heroes, Heart and Hope) on June 10 to benefit the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF). The gala event, which this year will honor Mark Holowesko - the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Investment Officer of Holowesko Partners Ltd. - raised more than $800,000 in 2008 to fund handcycles, running prosthetics and other specialized equipment to help physically challenged athletes overcome the economic barriers that far too often prevent them from participating in sports and athletic activities.
"CAF's message of heroes, heart and hope will be a breath of fresh air for New York area supporters during these tough economic times," said Scott Stackman, Senior Vice President of UBS Financial Services Inc. and Chairman of the Heroes, Heart and Hope gala organizing committee. "Our goal at this event is to continue to raise awareness in the New York Tri-State area of what is possible given the right resources, and raise funds to get more physically challenged athletes off the sidelines and into the game."
The Heroes, Heart and Hope gala will also recognize sports legends and celebrities like Ironman greats Paula Newby-Fraser, Dave Scott and Scott Tinley, but the real stars will be the more than 20 physically challenged athletes - from kids to Hawaii Ironman finishers, from trailblazers to troops wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan - who are supported by CAF and will attend the event. Their stories of breaking barriers and perseverance will be showcased during the evening's program. Highlighted athletes will include:
New York's own Sam Cila. An American hero, who joined the New York National Guard after September 11, was injured in Iraq on July 4, 2005 and subsequently lost his hand. Sam continues to heal through sports.
David Gelfand. Born with the same condition as CAF Spokesperson and CBS's Amazing Race reality star Sarah Reinertsen - his idol, this young Weston, Connecticut native, an above-knee amputee, offers hope to other physically challenged kids.
Deanna Babcock. A competitive athlete her whole life, she was devastated when she lost her leg after suffering a heart attack at the young age of 23. Now with a new running foot, she's back into sport, and back into life.
Ricky James. When a motocross accident went horribly wrong, he lost the use of his legs, but not his competitive spirit.
The spirited live auction at the Heroes, Heart and Hope gala boasts a coveted spot in the Ford Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii, (donated by Ironman) which last year was won with a $45,000 bid. Individuals unable to attend the Heroes, Heart and Hope gala will be able place proxy bids on the Ironman slot ahead of the event. Go to http://www.challengedathletes.org/ for details and rules.
"Tickets and sponsorship opportunities for this inspirational evening are still available" said Virginia Tinley, CAF's Executive Director. "Sponsors already on-board include: Ironman, Major League Baseball, Men's Health, and UBS Private Wealth Management, and it's through their support, that this uplifting evening is made possible."
The Heroes, Heart and Hope gala begins at 6 pm with cocktails and a silent auction in the Astor Salon. The dinner and program begin at 7:30 pm in the Grand Ballroom. The Waldorf=Astoria is located at 301 Park Ave in New York. For more information, or to purchase tickets, go to: http://www.heroesheartandhope.com/. Tickets to the event are $500.
On June 13, CAF athletes participating in the Heroes, Heart and Hope gala will hold a special multisport clinic, sponsored by Accenture at Asphalt Green (York Ave. between 90th and 92nd Streets in Manhattan) for local physically challenged athletes. For more information, contact: Jill@challengedathletes.org.
Since 1994, the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF) has raised more than $21 million and satisfied more than 4,000 requests for funding from challenged athletes around the world via its Access for Athletes program. Through its other programs - Catch a Rising Star (mentoring and introduction to sports), Operation Rebound (for U.S. military personnel and first responders injured while serving) and Reach High (community outreach), the organization reaches an additional 65,000 individuals per year. In 2009, CAF distributed more than $1.36 million in funding to 765 individuals in 49 U.S. states and 25 countries. To learn more, log on to http://www.challengedathletes.org/ or call 858-866-0959.