My name is Freddy Sotelo and I recently separated from the Marine Corps after 11yrs of service in order to pursue becoming a Navy SEAL. During one of my training sessions I came across this foundation with an amazing cause. The Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF) is a non-profit organization for disabled men and women. Operation Rebound is one of the many programs they have that is specifically for American military personnel, veterans and first responders with permanent physical disabilities. They provide opportunities to pursue active, athletic lifestyles by offering access to funding for equipment, training, competition expenses as well as Military Medical Center Physical Training (MMCPT) and sports clinics. Even as a fully medically retired servicemember, repairs or modifications done to equipment are not covered through their medical benefits. This can be extremely costly, and this is where Operation Rebound steps in.
I’ve had firsthand experience serving next to individuals with disabilities. Instead of looking at the glass half empty they look at it half full and carry on about their lives with a smile on their faces. They have the deepest gratitude for the blessings they DO have and it's a very humbling interaction. I saw the Staff Sergeant in the picture above fly through the Marine Corps obstacle course in Quantico, VA putting some able bodied Marines to shame. He lost his leg in combat operations during the War on Terror, yet refused to separate from the Marine Corps. During the obstacle course I know he was in pain, he limped slightly, and he didn't even have to complete this course, but the athleticism and determination was in his heart and mind and he felt obligated. He didn’t want to be "special", he just wanted to compete and be among the rest and he most definitely was. On top of that, he not only did the course once, he did it three times back to back to encourage other Marines.
Seeing this and the numerous others with similar circumstances I feel that Operation Rebound is an awesome opportunity for you and I to give back to these incredible service members so they can pursue the athletic endeavors of their choice. The Ironman 70.3 California takes place March 28, 2015. The way this fundraiser works is very simple. If I raise a minimum of $2,000 by January 10, 2014 in support of CAF, they will pay my way into the Ironman California. The only money that I will utilize for personal use is commercial airfare to the race. I will pay for my own lodging, food expenses, and equipment. I will also post a copy of the airfare receipt so that everyone knows where their donation is being used and how much is spent. ALL funds aside from airfare will go directly to CAF/ Operation Rebound.
The deadline for this fundraiser is January 10, 2015. CAF is very transparent when it comes to how they utilize their funds and their website is very informative. If you have any questions you can email me directly at [email redacted] or go to the CAF website @ www.challengedathletes.org. Please help me raise funds while simultaneously helping me achieve the fitness goals needed in order to endure SEAL training.
To all my brothers in Pendleton , the biking portion of this Ironman takes place through Camp Pendelton and the rest is at Oceanside Pier so I will most definitely be sporting a Marine Corps Insignia. I look forward to seeing all of you there.
- Ryan O'Toole
- J T
- Boozefighter TabOut
- Lacrecia Ortiz