Honoring Jim MacLaren

Jim MacLaren

One year ago today, my good friend Jim MacLaren passed away in his sleep. His sister Jennifer sent out this e-mail today and I’m honored to help spread the word.

Hello everyone,

As most of you know today is the 1st anniversary of my brother Jim’s passing. He is missed more than I can possibly say.

In his honor we are raising money for the Challenged Athletes Foundation. CAF was started for Jim after his second accident; a couple of his friends decided to raise money for an accessible van so Jim could drive. The foundation took off and now CAF helps hundreds of people get a new lease on life every year.

CAF continues to honor Jim’s memory with a special award given every October at their event. Our brother John is competing in the triathlon event in October and we are hoping to raise thousands of dollars in Jim’s name.

Please send out this link to everyone you know who might want to support a GREAT CAUSE and the memory of a GREAT Man!

Thank you all in advance for caring enough to donate and pass this on.


Here is some background on Jim, our friendship, and the founding of the Challenged Athletes Foundation:

Jim MacLaren and me in Santa Fe

I had interviewed Jim for my book, Sixty Seconds: One Moment Changes Everything, after hearing him interviewed on Jim Rome‘s sports-talk radio and TV shows. In the course of working with him on his story, we became friends. I visited him at his home in Santa Fe two years ago and was hoping to someday fly out to Pennsylvania to see him again. Jim had moved there last fall to be closer to his sister, Jennifer, and her family.

If you’re unfamiliar with Jim, here is his bio from my book:

MacLaren, a motivational speaker and author, has triumphed over two horrific accidents that would have destroyed a lesser man. At twenty-two, he was a Yale All-American athlete and aspiring actor when his motorcycle was broadsided by a New York City bus. Dead on arrival, he woke up after an eight-day coma to find his left leg amputated below the knee. Inspired by a book about triathlons, he became the fastest one-legged endurance athlete on the planet, routinely finishing ahead of most able-bodied athletes. Eight years later, a van plowed into him during a race, rendering him a quadriplegic.

Oprah Winfrey presents awards to Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboa and Jim MacLaren at the 2005 ESPY Awards

Above is a ten-minute video narrated by Kiefer Sutherland that introduced Jim at the 2005 ESPY Awards, where he was presented an award by Oprah Winfrey.

Jim’s second accident inspired the formation of the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF).

As the San Diego Triathlon Challenge website states:

Bob Babbitt, Jeffrey Essakow and Rick Kozlowski, three of [Jim’s] many friends from the sport of triathlon, created a triathlon in San Diego after the accident to buy Jim a vehicle that he could drive with his hands. The goal was to raise $25,000 and they ended up raising $48,000 through the first ever San Diego Triathlon Challenge. “At that event,” remembers Babbitt, “a number of other amputee athletes came up to us to thank us for what we did for Jim, but to also let us know that there were so many other athletes out there that needed help. Insurance would cover a walking leg, but anything having to do with sport was considered a luxury item.”

From Jim’s second tragedy, the Challenged Athletes Foundation was born and in the 17 years since, CAF has raised over $28 million to help disabled athletes stay in the game of life by providing grants to help purchase the equipment they need to stay in the game of life through sport.

“CAF is Jimmy’s legacy,” continues Babbitt. “I’m proud to say that, through the athletes that we help every day, his impact will live on forever.”

Click here to view all my posts about Jim MacLaren.


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