The IRONMAN Foundation will support three local Gold Star Families and provide additional wildfire recovery support in conjunction with the 2019 IRONMAN 70.3 Santa Rosa triathlon taking place on Saturday, July 27.
More than US$25,000 in charitable giveback will be distributed to non-profit initiatives and groups in the greater Santa Rosa region, bringing this year’s total awarded to over US$73,000 in the region and more than US$300,000 to date.
Concluding the weekend of events will be the IRONMAN Foundation second annual Community 5K presented by HOKA ONE ONE and Sonoma County Builders IRONKIDS, supporting the Santa Rosa Parks Foundation on Sunday, July 28 at 08:00 PT at Juilliard Park in Downtown Santa Rosa, California.
Gold Star Initiative
IRONMAN 70.3 Santa Rosa will host the Gold Star Initiative, a program in partnership between the IRONMAN Foundation and ‘wear blue: run to remember’, a national non-profit running community that honours the service and sacrifice of the American military. Through the Gold Star Initiative, IRONMAN athletes who have served in the US military will carry the American flag during the run portion of the event and present it to a Gold Star Family. ‘This program allows athletes to play a part in the healing process of those families who have lost a loved one in the name of freedom.’
The 2019 IRONMAN 70.3 Santa Rosa Gold Star Initiative Athletes and Families are:
- Mike Ergo and Raleigh Desiato: Racing as a relay team to honour Raleigh’s brother, Marine LCPL Travis Desiato, who was killed in the Second Battle of Fallujah in Iraq in December 2004. Raleigh will present the flag to her brother, Scott Williams. Mike Ergo is a Marine Corps veteran and IRONMAN Foundation Ambassador who fought in the Second Battle of Fallujah and wears the names of his fallen Marine Corps brothers on his race kit, including Desiato. Raleigh Desiato is a competitive horseshoer and blacksmith who resides in Angels Camp, California.
- Eric Keith: Racing to honour Air Force A1C Alfred Komlev, who was born in St Petersburg, Russia and moved to California with his parents as a child. Eric Keith will present the flag to Alfred Komlev’s mother, Tatiana Oddson. Eric Keith served in the US Marine Corps from 1981-1985 as a Reconnaissance Marine and is a co-founder of Sonoma County Builders, the title partner for the Sonoma County Builders IRONKIDS event at IRONMAN 70.3 Santa Rosa.
- Michelle Johnson: Racing to honour Air Force Senior Airman Jonathan Antoñio Vega Yelner, killed by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan in April 2008. Michelle Johnson, who served as Special Forces in the United States Air Force, will present the flag to Jonathan Antoñio Vega Yelner’s mother, Yolanda Vega.
To further support the healing process, Gold Star families will be provided with support to participate in the wear blue Gold Star Race program, providing them with access to training, support and entry into various running events, empowering them to process their grief and heal though running.
“We are deeply honoured to support our three Gold Star Families and are grateful for our Gold Star Initiative Athletes who will carry the American flag to honour the service and sacrifice of Marine LCPL Travis Desiato, Air Force A1C Alfred Komlev and Air Force Senior Airman Jonathan Antoñio Vega Yelner,” said Sarah Hartmann, Executive Director of the IRONMAN Foundation.
“IRONMAN is about creating a sense of community, and through the support and generosity of our athletes and partners like HOKA ONE ONE and Sonoma County Builders, we hope to be able to make a difference in Santa Rosa’s continued recovery from the wildfires.”
IRONMAN Foundation Community 5K presented by HOKA ONE ONE and Sonoma County Builders IRONKIDS, supporting the Santa Rosa Parks Foundation
The IRONMAN Foundation will host the second annual Community 5K presented by HOKA ONE ONE on Sunday, July 28 at 08:00 PT at Juilliard Park. Proceeds from this event will go directly to the Santa Rosa Parks Foundation to provide assistance as they continue to rebuild local parks impacted by the Tubbs Wildfire.
This event will be held in conjunction with a pancake breakfast provided by The Kiwanis Club of Santa Rosa and the Sonoma County Builders IRONKIDS Santa Rosa Fun Run, which also supports the Santa Rosa Parks Foundation.
“HOKA is a brand deeply-rooted in our community – whether it’s our fellow athletes, or our home state of California – and the 2017 fires directly affected many members of our community,” said Wendy Yang, President of HOKA ONE ONE.
“We are honoured to be able to support IRONMAN, the IRONMAN Foundation, and the process of rebuilding together, and it is humbling to see everyone come together to provide relief to our neighbours, friends and community.”