Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF) Million Dollar Challenge (MDC) bike ride leaving from Double Tree Inn heading to Santa Monica.
Paul Wellman

After providing an encampment for fund-raising cyclists this week, Santa Barbara will have a section of Cabrillo Boulevard set aside for fun-raising next Saturday.

During their seven-day, 620-mile ride down the California coastline, participants in the ninth annual Mazda Foundation Million-Dollar Challenge (MDC) spent Tuesday night at the Fess Parker DoubleTree Resort before heading off to Santa Monica early in the morning. They raised $1.2 million for the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF).

Among the beneficiaries is Aaron Loy, a 19-year-old UCSB lacrosse athlete who contracted meningitis and had both legs amputated last November. In March, he received a pair of prosthetic racing legs from the CAF.

The 108 riders included eight athletes with physical challenges. Lance Weir, paralyzed 21 years ago in a diving accident, was able to operate the hand crank of a tandem recumbent cycle while a rider in front pushed foot pedals. His co-riders included former professional cyclists Christian Vande Velde and David Zabriskie.

Basketball great Bill Walton was an enthusiastic participant in the ride. “I love my bike,” Walton said. “My bike is the most important thing I have. It’s everything I believe in. My bike is my home, my gym, my wheelchair, and my church, all in one.”

Vande Velde remarked, “Bill Walton finishes in the dark every day. With two fused ankles and a fused vertebra, it’s amazing he does what he does. It’s daunting for anyone to cycle 1,000 kilometers down the coast. There are a lot of hills.”

Everybody who signed up for the ride had to raise at least $12,500. The sacrifice was worth it to San Diego businessman Cody Stevenson. “It’s Wednesday, and we’re not in the office,” he said.

The MDC riders, who started last Saturday in San Francisco, reached their final destination, Kellogg Park in La Jolla, at 2 p.m. Friday.

SANTA BARBARA OPEN STREETS: Cabrillo Boulevard between Anacapa Street and Los Patos Way will be closed to motor vehicles from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. on Saturday, October 25. The 2.2-mile stretch will be dedicated to all sorts of recreational activities, including biking, skateboarding, scootering, strolling, and dancing. Visit


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