USA Triathlon News Articles Beijing-Bound Athlet...

Beijing-Bound Athletes Turn to Charities

July 29, 2008, 3:25 p.m. (ET)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (July 29, 2008) – Elite triathletes are often racing for more than themselves when they are out on the course. And I’m not just talking about the family, friends, and sponsors who have supported them in their journey.
There are often causes or organizations that the athletes have connected with in a special way, and the athletes use their notoriety and public image to help raise awareness and financial support for these groups.
The U.S. team of triathletes headed to Beijing for the Olympics Games next month is in a great position to bring attention to the groups they support in a special way.
Let’s find out more about the charities they support.

Hunter Kemper

A-T Children’s Project and Jenny’s Light

A-T Children's Project
Ataxia-Telangiectasis (A.T.) is a fatal genetic disease characterized by progressive weakening of the immune system, nervous system, and other bodily systems. Affected children typically develop difficulty walking, problems with balance, abnormal eye movements, and slurred speech as well as chronic lung infections and increased risk of developing cancer, particularly leukemia and lymphoma. They are usually wheelchair bound by the age of ten. Though some diagnosed with A.T. live into adulthood, their life expectancy is reduced tremendously.

“This past winter I had the privilege of meeting the Veldink family. The Veldink's lives have been changed by A.T. because two of their children, Kate (age 9) and Olivia (age 6) have both been diagnosed with the disease,” said Kemper.” I was honored to represent A.T. in January as I raced the Disney Half Marathon in support of the A.T. Children's Project. My life will never be the same after meeting these amazing families that struggle with this rare disease every day.”

Hunter was also an honorary coach for the A-T Triathlon Team at the Danskin Triathlon in Florida this past May.

Learn how you can make a difference in the lives of these kids and families that struggle with A.T.

To commemorate his journey, Hunter has created a keepsake for his fans that would also help find a cure or life-improving therapies for A-T. The entire proceeds of these t-shirts will benefit the A-T Children's Project in honor of Kate and Olivia.
Get your club involved by participating in the Tri Club Challenge. The winning club will get a visit from Hunter.

Jenny's Light
“Becky Lavelle has been a good friend and teammate of mine for many years. In December 2007, Becky experienced the tragic loss of her twin sister Jennifer Bankston and nephew Graham Gibbs Bankston,” Kemper said.” In honor and memory of her sister, Becky has helped create Jenny’s Light. The mission of Jenny's Light is to improve detection and treatment of all perinatal mood disorders such as postpartum depression by funding continuing education, research and supportive efforts.
Hunter will be appearing at the Jenny’s Light race expo booths at the LA Triathlon and the Toyota US Open in Dallas, Texas.
Find out more

Matt Reed

War on ALS (The Blazeman Foundation) and finding a cure for ALS

War on ALS
“I met Jon Blais in 2005 and my wife casually asked him if he would do Hawaii next year. He was in a wheelchair, but so was Kelly a few years ago. He replied, ‘I will be dead then.’ His comments shook my world,” said Reed. “He was 32, athletic, active, healthy, and loving life. Then he was diagnosed with ALS and to his words, he died in May 2007. I have been raising money and awareness for ALS and finding a cure for three years now and this cause is very close to my heart.

“I told Jon a few months before he died, ‘I am no professional golfer or basketballer. I don’t make millions and millions of dollars to hire a doctor to find a cure for this cruel disease. But I can take it to the world stage, the Olympics, and try to get people aware of it and how common this disease is.’ I have become close with his parents and I know that every time I take a start line, there is a thought of Jon with me. He had a great sense of humor, even in the rough end of the disease, and I have to know that I can make a difference in pushing to find a cure for ALS. There has been little progress made on finding a cure since the 60s and I hope I can help to change that.

“I not only donate a portion of every prize check I earn but also hold an annual fundraiser silent auction for War on ALS. I recently dedicated my victory at St. Anthony’s to Jon and will continue to do so until we find a cure.

I will be fighting for GOLD in BEIJING and we are all fighting for a cure for ALS. Find out more

Help the War on ALS and find out more about Jon Blais.

Sarah Haskins

Train for Autism and Jenny's Light

Train for Autism is an organization to promote awareness, treatment and detection of autism. Many local triathlons/runs/and other events are held around the country to raise funds and spread the news. I am interested in this charity because the cause not only supports a healthy lifestyle, but also supporting those with autism. My sister works with autistic children, and I have helped out in her classroom and have witnessed autism first hand.
Find out more

Jenny’s Light
“Becky Lavelle’s family experienced a personal tragedy and wants to spread the word and to help treat other women before it is too late,” said Haskins.

Jarrod Shoemaker

The DMSE Children's Fitness Foundation and breast cancer research and awareness
The goal of the DMSE Children’s Fitness Foundation is to promote physical fitness in youth.
“I am a big believer in promoting activities in youth and I have been able to do this by working with kids triathlons,” Shoemaker said.
Learn more

 “On a personal level, I support breast cancer research and awareness as my mom had breast cancer. I am not associated with any group, but I try to help out anyway I can and have raced with a breast cancer ribbon on my jersey,” Shoemaker said.
Find out more