The IRONMAN Foundation will distribute more than US$45,000 in charitable giveback to non-profit initiatives and groups in the Chattanooga region of Tennessee, in conjunction with the 2017 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship. The donation includes a new Chattanooga youth swim initiative in partnership with the Freeman Family Foundation and Chattanooga Youth & Family Development. The IRONMAN Foundation’s overall giveback in Chattanooga in 2017 will be US$126,500, bringing the total awarded to-date to US$351,500.
To commemorate the youth swim initiative, a special awards ceremony for the participants took place on Wednesday 6 September at Warner Park Pool. Children had the opportunity to meet and swim with IRONMAN athletes, as well as receive medals for their participation in the program and special acknowledgment from Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke and Darrell Freeman Sr, Chairman of the Freeman Family Foundation.
Freeman, a six-time IRONMAN finisher, knows first-hand the importance of swim initiatives like this. “My wife Gloria and I believe that this program is a great way for young people to learn how to swim,” said Freeman, a Chattanooga native and IRONMAN Foundation athlete. “I grew up swimming at Carver Center and Warner Park. Both places served as safe havens for me during my developmental years. To be able to partner with The IRONMAN Foundation to teach children how to swim brings my life full circle and shows that ‘Anything is Possible.’”
The IRONMAN Foundation will also be presenting Community Grant awards to the Dallas Bay Volunteer Fire Department and Rescue for a new Zodiac rescue watercraft, the Tennessee Valley Canoe Club to support their conservation and preservation programs, and Walker County Community Organizations Active in Disaster (COAD) to support their local disaster recovery programs.
“We are truly honoured to partner with these organizations and provide funding for their initiatives,” said Dave Deschenes, Executive Director for The IRONMAN Foundation. “Together we’re leaving a lasting impact and our IRONMAN legacy here in Chattanooga.”
In addition, Women For Tri, an initiative of The IRONMAN Foundation launched by IRONMAN and Life Time Fitness to bring more women into the sport of triathlon, will present a special grant to Chattanooga Girls For Tri, a program of the Chattanooga Triathlon Club. The award will provide scholarships to young female triathletes to cover their entry fees, equipment and training.
“This year’s IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship includes, for the first time, nearly 300 additional age-group women racing at the invitation of Women For Tri,” said Kyrsten Sinema US Representative, Arizona – 9th Congressional District and President of the Women For Tri Committee of Advisors. “Their participation supports Women For Tri’s grant programs, and we’re excited to make a special club grant to Chattanooga Girls for Tri in their honour.”
Continuing the ‘We’ve Got Your Back(pack)’ program launched in April of this year, volunteers at the IRONMAN Foundation booth inside of IRONMAN Village will be preparing backpacks for local children in need. Backpacks provided by Travelway Group International will include school supplies and sunscreen provided by Walmart, water bottles from Gatorade, healthy snacks from Clif Bar and inspirational notes written by IRONMAN athletes. The backpacks will be presented to Chattanooga Youth & Family Development to support their participating youth.
The IRONMAN Foundation Community Fund provides community and volunteerism grant opportunities to non-profit organizations where IRONMAN events are held. In 2017, The IRONMAN Foundation will distribute more than US$1.5 million in grant funding to support the needs of IRONMAN race communities across North America.