Unique Culinary Experience and Moving Program to raise funds to empower individuals with physical challenges through sports

NEW YORK, NY – June 2, 2021 – Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF) will host A Celebration of Heroes, Heart and Hope gala virtually on June 9. Hosted by Dylan Dreyer from NBC’s Today Show, the extraordinary program will showcase the healing and transformational power of sports within the community. This year’s unique evening will include an exclusive cocktail and cooking experience and share the power of sport through a moving program of athlete stories and transformational moments featuring youth and high school challenged athletes. The at-home experience will bring the community together to raise funds in support of the CAF mission – and empower the next generation of challenged athletes. For over 27 years, CAF has raised over $134 million and funded over 35,000 grants to athletes with physical challenges of all ages and abilities, in all 50 states and over 52 countries.

“We are thrilled to showcase the triumphs, accomplishments, and passion of the CAF community,” says Scott Stackman, gala founder, committee chairman and CAF board member. “It’s time for us to make a comeback and take our emotions and compassion for humanity to lift each other up.”

The event will begin at 6:30 p.m. with an exclusive interactive cocktail and culinary experience hosted by Montana-based CAF athlete and professional chef, Eduardo Garcia. Known all over the world as the “Bionic Chef”, Garcia cooks with a prosthetic left arm, the result of a hunting accident in 2011. At 7:15 pm, NBC Celebrity host Dylan Dreyer, will showcase CAF’s programming and inclusive community as gala guests feel the impact of the CAF mission with the stories of challenged athletes’ resilience, strength, and spirit during the pandemic.

The evening will feature stories of heroic and triumphant challenged athletes including:
• Selah Gilbert (Age 9) of Denver Colorado was found in China one week after birth abandoned near a bridge. She was taken to an orphanage until age 3, when she was adopted and came to the US with her forever family. She is a below-knee amputee and has a short left arm that ends above the elbow with 2 digits and a longer right arm that ends with no fingers or thumbs. Her elbow on her right side is not developed and is fused. Additionally, she was born with cleft lip and palate. Her recent CAF grant, will enable her to run, snowboard and learn Kung Fu martial arts. Paralympic Snowboarder, Amy Purdy gives back to help Selah learn to use her new Össur running prosthetic.
• Landis Sims (Age 15) a baseball player and quadruple amputee, just made his high school baseball team in Elizabeth, Indiana. He has earned the respect of the New York Yankees and was able to show off his hitting skills while taking batting practice with the Yankees during Spring Training. Landis also threw out the ceremonial first pitch at a Yankee game and has represented the Yankees during the MLB Draft. Landis was granted Össur running prosthetics with the MLB Network in 2020 which makes it possible for him to play on his high school team, his lifelong dream.

Through CAF’s 2021 grant distribution, challenged athletes in 49 states, Puerto Rico and 52 countries have recently received a variety of grants representing $5.1 million in support. Each individual has a unique personal story, and without this critical funding, participation in sports would be unattainable due to the general lack of insurance coverage for adaptive sports equipment and limited opportunities for these individuals to practice and compete.

Tickets to experience empowering night of sport are still available here.

We graciously thank the following sponsors for supporting this gala and CAF’s mission:
American Securities, Beatrice & Jeffrey Altman, Deborah Loeb Brice Foundation, The Pershing Square Foundation, Pvolve, Sharper Image, Smile Direct Club, Gary Sumers and Elizabeth Fowler, Third Point LLC, Connie and Mike Casey, Nike, ROTH Capital Partners, Melissa Silver and Ricky Sandler, UBS Financial Services, Alessandra and Alan Mnuchin, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Elizabeth and Jeffrey Bier, BTIG, Jen and Lyle Casriel, Chudnoff Family/ JLL, Andie and Jon Kully, Gloria LaGrassa, Lyrical Asset Management, Maguire Foundation, May Family/ Silverstein Capital Markets, Cynthia, David Wassong, and Wüsthof and The KRE Group.


About the Challenged Athletes Foundation

The Challenged Athletes Foundation® (CAF) is a world leader in helping people with physical challenges lead active, healthy lifestyles. CAF believes that participation in physical activity at any level increases self-esteem, encourages independence and enhances quality of life. Since 1994, more than $134 million has been raised and over 35,000 funding requests from people with physical challenges in all 50 states and dozens of countries have been satisfied. Additionally, CAF’s outreach efforts impact another 60,000 individuals each year. Whether it’s a $2,500 grant for a handcycle, helping underwrite a carbon fiber running foot not covered by insurance, or arranging enthusiastic encouragement from a mentor who has triumphed over a similar challenge, CAF’s mission is clear: give opportunities and support to those with the desire to live active, athletic lifestyles. To learn more, visit challengedathletes.org or call 858-866-0959.