Women’s Adaptive Cycling Team Changes the Course in the World of Female Sports

April 16, 2021

Challenged Athletes Foundation Gets More Women Involved in the Growing Sport of Handcycling to Compete at the Highest Level

San Diego, CA (April 16, 2021) – The Challenged Athletes Foundation’s (CAF) Women’s Adaptive Cycling Team kicks off their return to sport at the Paralympics Cycling Open in Huntsville, Alabama this weekend.  The team has competitive goals for the season and has a goal to get more women involved adaptive cycling and competing at the highest level. The first of its kind in the world, the CAF Women’s Adaptive Cycling Team consists of six female adaptive cyclists at different levels and classifications. Some members including Alicia Dana and Oksana Masters are intending to compete this summer in Tokyo at the 2021 Paralympic games.

The CAF Women’s Adaptive Cycling Team is coached by the accomplished handcyclist, Carlos Moleda, who knows first-hand the challenges of overcoming a serious injury. In 1989, the Navy SEAL and Purple Heart recipient was paralyzed in the line of duty. Since his injury, he has become a world-renowned endurance athlete, a pioneer for the sport of wheelchair racing, a six-time National Handcycling Champion and a five-time Hawaii Ironman Champion. Although he became a master at his craft, he identified the need for a new model in women’s adaptive cycling.

“Our main objective in working as a team is to encourage and inspire others, with a focus on getting more women on bikes and involved in sports,” said Carlos Moleda, Team Manager of the CAF Women’s Adaptive Cycling Team. “These women are ambassadors for athletes with disabilities on so many levels and are changing the face of women in the cycling world and sports in general.”

The competitive cycling team of six includes Paralympic medalists, world cup champions, paracycling national champions and developing cyclists who range from ages 17 to 49, each with a compelling life story. Over the years, CAF has supported each member with grants for equipment, training and competition expenses and the CAF Women’s Adaptive Cycling team message aligns with CAF’s belief that involvement in sports at any level increases self-esteem, encourages independence, and enhances quality of life.

Through training, competition and teamwork the women’s adaptive team will become even stronger through sport. “There’s nothing more powerful than a determined group of females supporting each other,” said Oksana Masters, CAF Team Captain and 8-time Paralympic medalist. “Coming together and being around like-minded people with similar challenges is not only motivating but also life-changing.”

The CAF Adaptive Cycling Team will debut in Huntsville, Alabama this weekend at the US Paralympics Cycling Open. Funding for travel, equipment and competition expenses is made possible by CAF’s generous partners: Toyota, 100%, Chargepoint and J&L Pie Company.

“As our partnership and commitment grows with CAF, the women’s handcycling team sponsorship made perfect sense,” Ludo Boinnard, Co-Founder & CEO of 100%, CAF’s Global Eyewear Partner. “Their commitment to the sport as elite athletes aligns with our brand on many levels and we are honored to be a part of their competitive journey.

CAF Women’s Adaptive Cycling Team roster:

  • Oksana Masters (Louisville, KY) – Born in Ukraine, both of Oksana’s legs were damaged by in-utero radiation poisoning from the Chernobyl nuclear reactor incident, along with several other birth defects. After being adopted and moving to the United States, Oksana ultimately had both legs amputated. She has won many athletic achievements and awards since and is training for the upcoming Paralympics.
  • Alicia Dana (Putney, VT) – Alicia has always been a competitor who loves pushing her body to its limits as an endurance athlete. She became paralyzed after falling from a tree when she was 17 years old and she started handcycling shortly after. She made her first Paralympic Cycling National Team in 2001 and is training to compete in the upcoming Games.
  • Danielle Watson (Tacoma, WA) – While rock climbing, Danielle fell over 250 feet and broke her ankles, femur, pelvis, and back in two places. She became paralyzed as a result and has since been involved in many adaptive sports and loves traveling for competitions all over the country. Danielle has her master’s degree in occupational therapy and works as a hand therapist while training hard to compete with her team in national and international competitions.
  • Lera Deoderlein (San Diego, CA) – Born in Saratov, Russia, Lera was adopted and moved to the US at almost two years old. After several surgeries, Lera still needed the aid of Knee-Ankle-Foot Orthoses and forearm crutches to move, and she ultimately made the decision to have a bilateral above-knee amputation in June of 2017. Lera was introduced to CAF soon after and today she’s working toward her goal of becoming a Paralympian.
  • Ryen Reed (Riverside, CA) – Ryen has been pushing boundaries since the day she took her first step. Cerebral palsy and hip dysplasia affect her body movement, muscle control and coordination, reflex, posture, and balance – making it ten times harder for her to move than an able-bodied person. Sports have always been an important part of Ryen’s life because they keep her strong and mobile. She’s now handcycling down an elite path in hopes of competing in the Paralympics.
  • Gabrielle Platt (Tulsa, OK) – Gabby is currently training to qualify for the US Paralympic Cycling Team. After becoming paralyzed from three gunshot wounds to the back, she resolved to never take anything in life for granted. This focus and drive to succeed has set her on the path to following her dream of being an elite athlete.

Media images and video here: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/crxe38r2ovlkzcy/AACjhcjA2ITiYns6Y_cxCc6Za?dl=0

About the Challenged Athletes Foundation

The Challenged Athletes Foundation® (CAF) is a world leader in helping people with physical challenges lead active, healthy lifestyles. CAF believes that participation in physical activity at any level increases self-esteem, encourages independence and enhances quality of life.  Since 1994, more than $134 million has been raised and over 35,000 funding requests from people with physical challenges in all 50 states and dozens of countries have been satisfied. Additionally, CAF’s outreach efforts impact another 60,000 individuals each year. Whether it’s a $2,500 grant for a handcycle, helping underwrite a carbon fiber running foot not covered by insurance, or arranging enthusiastic encouragement from a mentor who has triumphed over a similar challenge, CAF’s mission is clear: give opportunities and support to those with the desire to live active, athletic lifestyles. To learn more, visit challengedathletes.org or call 858-866-0959.


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