Truly inspiring in the world of cycling, The Mazda Foundation Million Dollar Challenge finds seasoned riders, celebrities and the physically-challenged riding side by side through some of the most iconic locations along of the California coast. With the Pacific Ocean a near constant companion, the splendor of the route matches the audacity of the undertaking. Plus, helping raise more than one million dollars to benefit challenged athletes makes the breath-taking trip that much more rewarding.
Earning the reputation as a premier cycling event in the country, The Mazda Foundation Million Dollar Challenge raises more than $1 million dollars each year to help promote an active lifestyle for those with physical challenges.
The 620-mile weeklong event stretches the coast of California, starting in San Francisco and ending in San Diego.
“Everything’s done, you just show up with your bike and ride,” said Jeff Cavignac, a previous Million Dollar Challenge participant. “A fantastic opportunity to give money back to an organization and then spend a week doing what you love. It’s an experience you’ll never forget—on a lot of different levels.”
In addition to providing an opportunity for cycling enthusiasts to participate in the ride of a lifetime, the Challenge helps physically challenged athletes remain in active in sports. Too often those with disabilities are relegated to the sidelines after an injury permanently compromises their mobility.
“We are honored to be the title sponsor of this one-of-a-kind experience,” says Mazda Foundation program director Tamara Mlynarczyk. “Through this event, millions of dollars have been raised to create life-changing possibilities for this community of people.”
The Challenged Athlete Foundation outreach efforts reaches nearly 60,000 people every year. Whether it’s providing a $2,500 grant for a handcycle for a paraplegic cyclist or helping to underwrite a carbon fiber running foot, the Challenged Athlete Foundation strives to ensure the physically challenged have every opportunity to continue to compete in the sports they love.
To participate, each rider raises a minimum pledge of $12,500, which includes hotel and food expenses during the week, as well as professional cyclist support.
“I’ve had some spectacular crashes in my career,” says Christian Vande Velde, former professional cyclist, Tour de France competitor and winner of the 2012 USA Pro Cycling Challenge. “Some of them have left me within inches of being in the same situation as many of the challenged athletes, so this really hits home for me. Riding with them, you see the people you’re helping firsthand.”
“We are very grateful for the Mazda Foundation’s continued support,” says Challenged Athlete CEO Ken Wheateley. “Through their efforts, we can continue to help individuals with physical challenges pursue an active lifestyle through sport and physical fitness.”
The 2016 Mazda Foundation Million Dollar Challenge begins on Saturday, October 15. For more information, or to sign up to participate, visit ChallengedAthletes.org.