Athletics have always been a major part of my life. I recall following my father on long 50+ mile bike rides as a young rider, which later in life led to distance running and triathlons. For me, participating in athletics events is about setting personal goals, following a disciplined approach to training, and being sure to enjoy the journey. If you enjoy it, it becomes an integral part of your life.
I was first introduced to CAF about 16 years ago. CAF and MUFG Union Bank have had a long-standing relationship, both as a client, through support of the Union Bank Foundation, and board representation by Union Bank senior bankers. At the time my good friend Mary Curran of Union Bank was on the board, and, knowing that I was a triathlete, invited me to participate in the San Diego Triathlon Challenge in La Jolla Cove. The entire weekend was a life changing moment.
Participating in the race that weekend alongside individuals with physical challenges as they participated in the athletic event was inspiring. A 1.2-mile swim, 55-mile bike ride, and 13-mile run. Difficult for me, amazing for folks with extra challenges. I’ve been back every year since that first time, and proud to say that I’ve gotten a lot of Union Bank colleagues and friends involved as well.
CAF is focused on supporting people with physical challenges and giving them access to a healthy, athletic lifestyle. CAF provides mentoring /counseling, financial support so that athletes can travel to various events, athletic equipment (hand cycles, sports focused wheelchairs, athletic prosthetic limbs), and a common ground for everyone to communicate. The adaptive sports equipment allows the individuals to participate in athletic activities previous outside their capabilities.
My favorite part of the San Diego Triathlon Challenge weekend is on Saturday when the athletes are brought into a very large lawn area and are presented with new equipment and training/mentoring sessions. They see others with similar challenges and enjoy the comradery. You see young children hanging out together from all over the country – on this weekend they are no longer different.
I’ve participated in many triathlons and races but this is unlike any other athletic event. It’s a friendly competition, where the majority of participants are on a team, and trying to help each other succeed in completing. The participants are what make this event so great. It’s a celebration of athletic endeavor and appreciating that everyone has a right and ability to engage in sports.
As a competitive athlete, I have a deep appreciation of how athletics have impacted my life for the better. Supporting and seeing challenged athletes experience the same thing is pretty amazing. You can change someone’s life forever by providing them with the power of mobility, athletics, support and mentoring.
David Jochim is a Managing Director at MUFG Union Bank and has served on the Board of Directors for CAF for the last 14 years.