As we make final preparations in advance of boarding our flight to Africa in less than two weeks on August 29th, we thought we should tell you about one of our team members John MacLaren, and in particular some background on his brother Jim.
In his 20’s Jim was a Yale student, an All-American football player, and had a bright future ahead of him. Then he was hit by a New York City bus, pronounced dead on the scene, but miraculously he lived and awoke from a coma 8 days after the accident, noticing his left leg had been amputated below the knee. Jim didn’t give up, he recovered and went on to become the top amputee triathlete in the world and finished the grueling Hawaii Ironman in 10:42 – impressive by any standard.
Fast forward to 1993, Jim was competing in another triathlon, and while on the bike course, he was hit again. This time by a van, he was catapulted into a pole, and this amputee athlete instantly became a quadriplegic. That didn’t stop him either, and with the help of his friends (Jeffrey Essakow, Bob Babbitt & others) they organized a triathlon to raise money to buy Jim a wheelchair accessible van so he could regain some of his independence. That’s how the Challenged Athletes Foundation was born, and lives on stronger than ever today, having gone from helping one athlete, to helping more than 6,000.
Unfortunately Jim MacLaren passed away two years ago, on Aug. 30th, but his memory lives on in all of our hearts, especially in the heart of his brother John. We are honored to have John as part of our CAFrica Kilimanjaro Team, and to climb by his side two years after Jim’s passing, as John proudly takes on this challenge to reach the roof of Africa as a tribute to his brother. John is the Founder of Elite Fitness Training Systems in Santa Monica, he admirably served our country as a U.S. Navy SEAL, and is one of our group's top 5 fundraisers. Thank you for your support of CAF, John MacLaren, and the rest of our CAFrica team, and for following along on this blog as the adventure begins!