BJA Partners and the Challenged Athletes Foundation can provide needed support for athletes of all ages, but they need your help now. To vote for them, use the social media buttons to share this story, or leave a comment below. If they reach 500 votes, the $5k donation they’ve already earned doubles to $10k!
Sports are truly magical. They can create new friendships, build heathy lifestyles or form deep and longstanding passions. For many athletes however, physical challenges like paralysis, visual impairment or disabilities due to disease and traumatic incidents have barred them from participation.
Most health insurance companies don’t cover adaptive equipment and coaching for people with physical challenges. For many families, this means sacrificing sports completely. The Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF) in San Diego, California chose not to accept this, and for over 25 years, has been creating opportunities for athletes of all ages to keep doing what they love. In the last year alone, CAF directly helped almost 4,000 athletes across 103 different sports.
A mission that calls for all hands on deck
Through his friendship with CAF’s founder, as well as a personal health journey of his own, Myron Jucha formed a deep commitment to the nonprofit’s work. As the CEO of insurance agency BJA Partners, Myron has provided CAF with their employee benefits and other insurance needs for over 20 years. The agency staff has tapped the same passion, and now nearly all of BJA Partners is regularly involved.
Showing families a future for their kids in sports
Of the many ways that BJA Partners pledges their support, sponsorship of CAF’s annual “Million Dollar Challenge” is one of the most memorable for agency staff. Personally participating in this 620 mile bike ride from San Francisco to San Diego was one of the first ways Myron got involved with the nonprofit. That first year, Myron met the mother of a three-year-old boy named Zack. Zack’s mother had found CAF after making the unthinkable decision to amputate both of her son’s legs due to a birth deformity.
“Zack’s mom felt hope for her son that he could live a normal life,” said Myron. “CAF gave him his first pair of running prosthetics so that he could run around like every other three-year-old. Seeing Zack run across the stage in his new prosthetics was all I needed to know my involvement makes a real difference.”
“Seeing Zack run across the stage in his new prosthetics was all I needed to know my involvement makes a real difference.”
-Myron Jucha, CEO, BJA Partners
Three-year-old Zack, with US Paralympic cyclist Brandon Lyons before the Million Dollar Challenge ride started. CAF is a longtime supporter of Brandon, who is currently training for the 2021 Tokyo Paralympics.
Adapting and staying motivated in the face of the pandemic
With the cancellation of in-person events last year, it would have been easy to lose inspiration. “CAF’s work directly stands up to the challenges of our time. A global pandemic, a devastating financial crisis and ongoing social injustices create even greater barriers for the community we serve,” said Jaimie Lynch, Event Manager at the Challenged Athletes Foundation. “Much of our community is at risk of serious health complications, requiring them to be under extreme quarantine through the pandemic.”
CAF adapted quickly, replacing the Million Dollar Challenge with a new virtual event that brought people together to log their miles from afar. Collectively, their millions of miles raised millions of dollars, and gave thousands of athletes a sense of community in quarantine. The value of that experience is something we can all likely identify with after this past year.
“CAF’s work directly stands up to the challenges of our time. A global pandemic, a devastating financial crisis and ongoing social injustices create even greater barriers for the community we serve.”
-Jaimie Lynch, Event Manager, Challenged Athletes Foundation
$10,000 would be life-changing for families involved with Challenged Athletes Foundation. It could buy a set of prosthetic legs for a child like Zack, or pay for the coaching of 10 different individuals. CAF’s impact could take any number of shapes – all they need is your vote. Learn more about BJA Partners.