Challenged Athletes Foundation partners with local fitness chain

Eos Fitness has partnered with the Challenged Athletes Foundation.

Nearly 30 years ago, the Challenged Athletes Foundation in San Diego arose out of an effort to help a single athlete who had lost his leg in a motorcycle accident.

Since then, according to co-founder Bob Babbitt, the nonprofit has raised $134 million, awarded 35,000 grants to athletes in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and 73 countries who play more than 100 different sports.

The Challenged Athletes Foundation has now partnered with EōS Fitness to help further its mission.

“It’s just been a wonderful partnership, and I love the synergy that it is all about inclusion and it’s all about accessibility,” Babbitt said.

The first athlete who inspired the creation of the Challenged Athletes Foundation was Jim MacLaren, who went on to run a marathon in three hours and 16 minutes after losing one of his legs below the knee. He also completed an Ironman triathlon in under 11 hours. His prosthetic was an unsophisticated implant made of wood, Babbitt said, “one step ahead of Captain Hook.”

The Challenged Athletes Foundation helps deliver more state-of-the-art prosthetics and other devices to help athletes with physical disabilities compete on the biggest stages, including the recently concluded Paralympic Games in Tokyo.

Encinitas resident and runner Joel Gomez, 18, who is legally blind, was one of the CAF athletes in Tokyo.

“The race went pretty well,” Gomez said. “It was an amazing learning experience. I didn’t get on the podium, but I know that I’m young and I have many years in the future to keep improving, and I can’t wait until Paris 2024 and onward from there.”

Gomez added that his training could lead him to the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, instead of the Paralympic Games.

“Anything is possible at this point,” he said. “I’m always going to be putting my feet down to the grinding stone on that track and just working as hard as I can, and whatever outcome comes from that, I’m happy with anything.”

EōS Fitness, which has multiple locations throughout San Diego County, recently celebrated its seventh anniversary.

“We’re going to continue their mission of providing the opportunities for the people with physical challenges to increase things like self esteem, encourage independence, enhance their quality of life,” said Joella Hopkins, the company’s vice president of group fitness. “And at the same time we’re complementing the EoS promise that we already have to our members of creating a welcoming place for everyone.”

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