July 15, 2014, 12:03 p.m. (ET)
 
USOPF Chairman Gordon Crawford (left), USOC archivist Teri Hedgpeth and two-time Olympian Rafer Johnson look at a 1932 Olympics artifact during the USOC's Team USA Club Night at the Beverly Hilton hotel on the opening night of the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games.

Like most Americans, United States Olympic and Paralympic Foundation Chairman Gordon Crawford grew up watching the Olympic Games on television.

“I watched from the very first telecast in 1960,” he says.

But the Olympics didn’t make a deep impression on him until the first time he watched an Olympic event in person – at the 1984 Winter Games in Sarajevo.

“That was the week,” Crawford says, “when I really fell in love with the Olympics.”

It wasn’t just the athletics, although he is undeniably a sports fan. What drew Crawford in were the bigger themes – patriotism, global goodwill, friendships across borders – that are built into the very fabric of the Games.

“Take an event that happened in Sochi,” Crawford said. “A Russian competitor fell down and broke his ski. He was obviously out of the race, but he wanted to finish. A Canadian coach took off his ski and put it on the Russian competitor, allowing him to stay in the race. The crowd roared as the guy finished – dead last, but he finished. That is the Olympics to me.”

Inspired by the Olympic spirit of camaraderie, Crawford began collecting Olympic memorabilia back in 1984. Now, he is the proud curator of one of the largest known collections.

“I love collecting Olympic memorabilia,” he explains, “because I want to help preserve the history of the Olympics.”

His dedication to preserving Olympic history is why he intends to leave his collection to the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Foundation. His historic artifacts will supplement the United States Olympic Committee's existing archive collection, forming the Crawford Family U.S. Olympic Archives. The expanded collection will be housed at the USOC Headquarters in downtown Colorado Springs. Once the move is completed this fall, the archives will reopen to visitors and researchers.

In addition to Crawford's financial and material contributions to the archive project, he has also made a major gift to the USOPF in his estate plans. 

“Including the organizations that you really care about in your will or trust is an extremely effective way to leave a legacy,” Crawford says. “Because you aren’t giving up any assets today, you don’t run the risk of ending up short yourself during your lifetime.”

Crawford points out that a planned gift to Team USA is not only financially smart – it also benefits the future of the Olympic Games.

“Every two years we turn on our televisions for two weeks and watch Team USA in this epic global event,” he reflects. “To fund all the joy that so many of us get from watching, we need private philanthropic support since we are one of only a few countries that do not receive direct support from our government. Instead, the necessary support comes from direct donations that people give and legacy gifts.”

Crawford's gifts to the USOPF provide him the opportunity to ensure that the patriotism, goodwill and friendship that drew him into the Games back in 1984 will continue for future generations.

“We need that, in this world we live in,” Crawford says. “The Olympics bring the world closer together.”

To learn more about how to support the future of the Olympic Games through a gift in your will or other estate plans, please contact Jeff Mielke at 719-866-4851 or Jeffrey.mielke@usoc.org