Craig Hospital’s biggest fundraiser of the year, presented by NexGen, was held on Saturday, April 27, 2019. The PUSH Gala raised nearly $2 million to support Craig Hospital’s programs and research.
At the 2019 PUSH, the Inspiration Award was given to Tricia Downing. The Inspiration Award recognizes an individual who stands out as a positive and influential role model for the community Craig serves. On September 17, 2000, Downing went from being a competitive cyclist to a paraplegic requiring a wheelchair for mobility. Her life was changed forever, but her competitive spirit and zest for life continued on. Downing is a Craig hospital graduate, a multi-sport athlete, nonprofit Executive Director, author, motivational speaker and Paralympian.
Making the transition from able-bodied cyclist to an athlete with a disability, Tricia has completed over 100 races, including marathons and triathlons, since her accident. She was the first female paraplegic to complete an Ironman triathlon and qualified for the Hawaii Ironman World Championship twice. Additionally, she was a member of Team USA at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Tricia’s professional life has been immersed in sports as she earned a master’s degree in Sport Management in 1995 and worked at the U.S. Olympic Training Center. She was the press officer for the USA Table Tennis team at the 1996 Olympic Games.
Receiving many sports accolades, including the USA Triathlon Physically Challenged Athlete of the Year (2003), Sportswomen of Colorado—Inspiration (’03), Triathlon (05), Hall of Fame (’12) Awards, the 2006 Most Inspirational Athlete from the Challenged Athletes Foundation and the 2008 Courage Award from the Tempe Sports Authority, Tricia has truly excelled despite her life-altering injury.
In addition to her sports pursuits, Tricia completed a master’s degree in Disability Studies. She is the Executive Director for The Cycle of Hope, a non-profit organization dedicated to serving female wheelchair users, helping them build confidence and create support systems through fitness activities.
Tricia published her memoir: Cycle of Hope—A Journey from Paralysis to Possibility in June, 2010, with the second edition released in January 2017.