BOISE, Idaho — The Challenged Athletes Foundation helps empower people with physical challenges to find community, confidence, and conviction through sports.
The CAF Women's Handcycling Team is competing in Boise this weekend in the 33rd Annual Twilight Criterium for the time ever and the sport has brought these men and women together to find solace and purpose.
The CAF Women's Team is coached by Carlos Moleda, who knows first-hand how difficult it is to overcome a serious injury.
"You break your neck or you break your back, your life changes, you find yourself in a hospital bed staring up thinking, "What am I gonna do now?'" he said.
That's why Moleda mentors people like Danielle Watson, the newest member of the team.
She fell hundreds of feet during a rock climbing accident, paralyzing her from the abdomen-down. With the CAF and her teammates, she was able to find her purpose again.
"I feel like challenged athletes foundation saved my life... because after an injury like this, you're just shaken to the core and to have this organization come in and give you a pathway to get into sports it really really means a lot," Watson said.
Oksana Masters is one of Watson's teammates. She was born in Ukraine during the Chernobyl nuclear reactor disaster.
"That basically was the main cause of all of my - I hate saying disabilities and birth defects - I just like to say my unique differences," Masters said.
The radiation from the nuclear disaster forced her to amputate both of her legs by the time she was 14, which caused her to have some rough years. But through sports, she was eventually able to find solace, becoming a four-time U.S. Paralympian.
"I don't know I just - I'm very lucky that I found my passion," she said.
Despite each of their physical limitations, the CAF Women's Handcycling Team will continue setting an example for others through sport.
"The number one empowering tool we have is sports, you know because sports don't care that someone is blind or someone is paralyzed it will accept anyone. you know just come in and play, and that's what the foundation does it provides that accessibility," Moleda said.
The CAF Women's Handcycling Team will race together in the Twilight Criterium at 5:30 p.m.