Bay Area Proud

Bay Area Proud

Inspiring stories of people making a difference

Gilroy Family Embarks On 5,000-Mile Alaskan Adventure To Aid Blind Athletes

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    NEWSLETTERS

    It's a good bet the Kabai family's idea of a summer vacation is different than yours and mine. (Published Wednesday, Jun 25, 2014)

    Imre Kabai and his 19-year-old son, Andras, spent a combined 316 hours paddling this spring and got absolutely nowhere for their effort.

    That's because those hours, sometimes four a day, were spent working out on a homemade kayaking simulator they had set up in the garage of their Gilroy home. 

    The reason for all that training is an ambitious summer adventure the two embarked on last week: kayaking 1,800 miles of the Yukon River across Alaska.

    As impressive as that journey may sound, though, it's not the half of it for the Kabai family. 

     Literally.

    Andras Kabai and his father, Imre, practiced on their kayak trainer for up to four hours a day in preparation for their 1,800-mile adventure.

    Imre's other two sons, Peter, 21, and Janos, 18, have started off on a 3,600-mile bicycle trek from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska to the Bay Area.

    The two, ambitious journeys are inspired by, and raising money for, blind athletes who compete in the sport of Judo. "They are pushing their limits," Peter says, "just like we are pushing ours."

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    The sense of adventure the Kabai boys display certainly seems to have been inherited from their father. In the 18 years since Imre emigrated from Hungary to the United States he has challenged himself with with thousand-mile-long adventures in sailboats and on motorcycles. He once attempted to fly around the western half of the United States in an ultra-light airplane.

    Peter and Janos Kabai will being their bicycle journey in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska and end it, 77 days and 3,600 miles later, in the Bay Area

    "Growing up I've seen my dad so some crazy things," Peter says. "I think it's rubbed off on me."

    Imre, when asked why he chooses to challenge his mind and body on such epic quests responds with a simple, "Why not."

    After being pressed, Imre elaborates a bit more: "Believe it or not it's much more of an internal adventure. Breathtaking highs and incredible lows." Imre says one way he has found to make that internal adventure even more rewarding, is to do it for someone other than just himself. 

    That is where the Blind Judo Foundation comes in.

    When they were younger, the Kabai boys learned judo in the San Bruno dojo of legendary coach Willie Cahill. Cahill, in addition to coaching sighted athletes to medals in competitions all around the world, has taken on the challenge of teaching blind athletes to compete in judo.

    Imre Kabai and his sons will travel a combined 5,000 miles on their kayak and bicycles

    The sport, in which competitors are in nearly constant physical contact with each other, has proven a good fit for the visually impaired, with some capable of beating their sighted counterparts.

    Imre says the whole family is inspired by the athletes, and big fans of Willie's. "He's such a warm caring person," Imre says.

    Imre and Andras' kayaking journey is expected to take more than 40 days. Peter and Janos' bicycle trek will take twice as long. When internet access allows, they are blogging about their adventures along the journey.

    The Kabais, who once trained with legendary judo coach Willie Cahill, say it is his work with blind athletes that inspired them to raise money for the Blind Judo Foundation