SI Recognizes Foundation Goals in Naming Michael Phelps Sportsman of the Year

Michael Phelps SI Sportsman of the Year

U.S. Olympian Michael Phelps was named Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year, becoming the first swimmer to receive the honor.

SI’s Alan Shipnuck notes that “increasing participation rates among kids around the country and expanding their access to the water is one of the primary goals” of the Michael Phelps Foundation.

Phelps: “The reason I started swimming was water safety, pure and simple. I have a passion for keeping kids safe. My mission is to teach as many as I can to swim. It’s not about chasing medals — you never know when you’re going to be put in a situation that’s life or death” (Alan Shipnuck, Sports Illustrated, 12/1). Read the entire article from Sports Illustrated

Image credit: Sports Illustrated

Olympian Steve Hooker Among Australian Athletes Singing for Charity in Melbourne

Australian Olympic pole vaulter Steve Hooker “will be among a number of Australian sports and TV stars to sing songs for charity” at the annual Alannah and Madeline Foundation’s Starry Starry Night Gala Ball in Melbourne on November 22.

Hooker will sing Old Time Rock and Roll while AFL player Luke Ball “is set to sing Justin Timberlake’s Sexy Back“.

The 11th annual event, which will be co-hosted by former Olympian Giaan Rooney, “hopes to raise up to $1 million for the foundation, which aims to keep children safe from violence” (Herald Sun, 11/14).

Athlete Notes: Phelps in Poker Tourney; Gordon Auctions Suit; Robinson Hosts Soccer Event

Sunflower Children

U.S. Olympian Michael Phelps will be participating Sunflower Children’s 2nd annual Texas Hold’em Charity Benefit on November 21. Sunflower Children is a humanitarian aid organization that provides survival and development care for the forgotten children of the world (Sunflower Children).

If the Suit Fits: NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon donated the EA Sports NASCAR 09 firesuit he wore during the “Prelude to the Dream” celebrity charity late-model dirt race held at Eldora Speedway in June. The suit will go towards raising money for The Jeff Gordon Foundation.

While the firesuit auction is still ongoing, GoMotorBids.com President Pat Rainey noted, “Last year, Jeff auctioned off the helmet he wore in this race, and it sold for $20,000. His fans love seeing him return to his dirt-racing roots, and the fact that he does it so rarely makes pieces like this firesuit that much more valuable” (GoMotorBids.com).

Mr. Robinson’s Neighborhood: Chicago Fire D Dasan Robinson held his first annual Dasan Robinson Soccer Tournament at a Chicago-area Boys & Girls Club recently. Robinson attended the first day of the week-long youth soccer event to kick things off. He served as a guest referee and spent time with the kids encouraging good sportsmanship and healthy competition. The winning team received trophies and medals. And the runner-ups received participation medals (Athletes for Hope).

Photo credit: Sunflower Children

Athletes for Hope Helps Gymnastics Superstars Tour with Community Involvement

Gymnastics Tour

Following their success in Beijing, the 2008 U.S. Gymnastics team, along with teammates from previous years embarked on a whirlwind three month, 37-city, Gymnastics Superstars Tour. Throughout October and November, Athletes for Hope (AFH) helped them to incorporate various charity experiences into their already busy schedule.

In October, Athletes for Hope worked with charity partner Make-A-Wish Foundation to grant a wish to meet Shawn Johnson to a special nine-year-old girl with Hodgkin’s Disease. She not only met her hero, but many of the other gymnasts as well, including AFH member Nastia Liukin, and she was able to perform on stage for the entire audience.

In November, the Tour stopped in Milwaukee and St. Louis, where AFH was again able to coordinate with Make-A-Wish to arrange for “Wish Enhancements.” While in Cleveland and East Lansing, the athletes headed over to the local Children’s Hospitals to visit with the kids in the playrooms and at bedside. AFH members Nastia Liukin and Paul Hamm participated in all events along with many of their teammates (Athletes for Hope).

Athlete Notes: Phelps in Poker Tourney; Gordon Auctions Suit; Robinson Hosts Soccer Event

Sunflower Children

U.S. Olympian Michael Phelps will be participating Sunflower Children’s 2nd annual Texas Hold’em Charity Benefit on November 21. Sunflower Children is a humanitarian aid organization that provides survival and development care for the forgotten children of the world (Sunflower Children).

If the Suit Fits: NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon donated the EA Sports NASCAR 09 firesuit he wore during the “Prelude to the Dream” celebrity charity late-model dirt race held at Eldora Speedway in June. The suit will go towards raising money for The Jeff Gordon Foundation.

While the firesuit auction is still ongoing, GoMotorBids.com President Pat Rainey noted, “Last year, Jeff auctioned off the helmet he wore in this race, and it sold for $20,000. His fans love seeing him return to his dirt-racing roots, and the fact that he does it so rarely makes pieces like this firesuit that much more valuable” (GoMotorBids.com).

Mr. Robinson’s Neighborhood: Chicago Fire D Dasan Robinson held his first annual Dasan Robinson Soccer Tournament at a Chicago-area Boys & Girls Club recently. Robinson attended the first day of the week-long youth soccer event to kick things off. He served as a guest referee and spent time with the kids encouraging good sportsmanship and healthy competition. The winning team received trophies and medals. And the runner-ups received participation medals (Athletes for Hope).

Photo credit: Sunflower Children

Olympian Comaneci Visits Special Olympics Madrid Project for Leureus Sports

Laureus’ Special Olympics Madrid Project (2:22)

Olympic gymnast Nadia Comaneci, a member of the Laureus World Sports Academby, visited a Laureus-supported project in Spain last month to congratulate young athletes who competed in the sixth Special Olympics National Games in Castellón (Laureus).

Video added to YouTube: November 10, 2008

Athlete Notes: Speed Selling Shirts; NFLers Pitching In; Walsh Volleys for Cure

Scott Speed and Muffin Man

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Scott Speed, who has been diagnosed with the digestive condition ulcerative colitis, is raising money for the Chron’s & Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA) by selling “Muffin Man” t-shirts, which he designed in partnership with Arizona-based Muze Clothing. The shirt sells for $40, with 100% of the proceeds from each sale being earmarked to benefit CCFA (Muze Clothing).

In St. Louis: St. Louis Rams DT La’Roi Glover and his La’Roi Glover Foundation hosted 350 Missouri kids at the November 2nd Rams-Arizona Cardinals game. Following the game, the kids enjoyed a meet and greet with Glover. Kids were invited from the Herbert Hoover Boys and Girls Club and Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri (Giving Back Fund).

In New York: New York Giants LB Gerris Wilkinson, New York Jets S Abram Elam and retired NFL player Jack Brewer joined Genworth in New York last month to help revitalize the local Jackie Robinson Park. Wilkinson joined the volunteers in cleaning up trash and debris as well as planting new tulip bulbs in the garden area. Elam and Brewer shared their experiences with over 50 youth of the after-school program and flag football team (Athletes for Hope).

In Cleveland: Olympic Gold Medalist Kerri Walsh donated two signed volleyballs to the MaryEllen Locher Foundation for their Volley for a Cure Fundraiser in conjunction with Homecoming at Lee University on November 6-7. The volleyballs were auctioned off during the “Pink Party” on Thursday November 6. On Friday, during Lee University’s Homecoming Volleyball game, all fans and teams are encouraged to wear pink in support of the cause (Athletes for Hope).

Photo credit: Muze Clothing

1996 Gold Medalist Charles Austin Jumping to Raise Money for Scholarships, Diabetes Help

Charles Austin

In an effort to raise money for scholarships and to benefit the American Diabetes Association, 1996 Olympic Gold Medalist Charles Austin is attempting to set the world indoor high jump record for a 40-year-old this Saturday in San Marcos, Texas (mysanantonio.com, 11/3).

Photo credit: CharlesAustin.net

Olympic Games: Chinese Government Made List Of U.S. Athletes It Was Concerned About

Team Darfur

USA Today’s Christine Brennan reports today that China’s government “was so concerned about the possibility of athlete demonstrations in the Beijing Olympics that it created a list of nine U.S. athletes and one assistant coach it thought might cause trouble at the Games, according to an internal U.S. Olympic Committee e-mail.”

The e-mail stated that that Shu Xiao, minister counselor for cultural affairs at the Chinese embassy in Washington, said “many of them” were “apparently associated with Team Darfur.” Brennan notes that Team Darfur is “an international coalition of athletes committed to raising awareness about the crisis in Darfur, Sudan.”

Brennan also writes that “there were no incidents involving the athletes in China, and after months of conversation about possible athlete protests over Darfur, Tibet or China’s treatment of dissidents, none materialized at the Games.”

Team Darfur member and soccer player Amy Wambuch said about the list, “This may be the biggest compliment of my life. If they’re worried about us, maybe we do have more strength as athletes and as people to speak out. This just gives me more empowerment” (USA Today, 10/30).

Read the entire article at USAToday.com

Athletes for Hope, Make-A-Wish Work With Gymnast Shawn Johnson to Grant a Wish

Make-A-Wish Foundation

Athletes for Hope (AFH) and the Make-A-Wish Foundation worked together to grant a wish request for 9-year-old Sara from North Carolina. Make-A-Wish approached AFH about getting in touch with U.S. Gymnastics Gold Medalist, Shawn Johnson, during the national Gymnastics Superstars Tour in Raleigh on October 19. AFH was able to coordinate the match and set up a special day for Sara.

Sara has Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and has been going through treatments for quite some time. She has been a gymnast for many years and was at a level 4 before being diagnosed. Her treatments are going well, so she has started practicing more with her gymnastics team again. Sara performed her floor routine and Johnson was impressed with what a great job she did. The pair decided to keep going and Sara showed Johnson her beam routine while Johnson spotted. They also practiced on the uneven bars and worked on Sara’s back tucks with the help of other gymnasts nearby.

During the Superstars Tour event, Johnson introduced her to the crowd and talked about granting her wish that day. Sara performed her floor routine dressed in her new leotard to the music of her favorite Hannah Montana song, “Who Said.” She received a standing ovation from the crowd (Athletes for Hope).

American Lung Association Rolls Out New Vid; Taps Yamaguchi for Seals Campaign

Asthma Management Video (1:25)

The American Lung Association has an animated short encouraging kids with asthma to stay active through proper asthma management (American Lung Association).

Video added to YouTube: October 18, 2008

In Other News: Olympic Gold Medalist Kristi Yamaguchi has been named chairperson for the 2008 American Lung Association Christmas Seals Campaign.

Over the next month, more than 12 million Americans will receive a letter from Yamaguchi along with the familiar decorative holiday stamps, urging them to open their hearts to the Lung Association this holiday season.

Meanwhile, Yamaguchi is also a national spokesperson for the organization’s Faces of Influenza educational initiative, which teaches families about the dangers of influenza and the need to be immunized (American Lung Association).

Jackie Joyner-Kersee Looking Forward to Frightfully Fun Time With Kids Tomorrow

Jackie Joyner-Kersee Foundation Frightfully Fun Run

The Jackie Joyner-Kersee Foundation is hosting its annual Frightfully Fun Kid’s Run/Walk at Six Flags St. Louis tomorrow The event aims not just to raise funds for the organization, but also to promote its Families in Training Program (F.I.T.).

This physical conditioning program, for 6-18 year olds and their families, emphasizes the importance of combining a healthy, balanced diet with proper exercise daily. The F.I.T. program is a cooperative effort between Schnucks Markets and The Jackie Joyner-Kersee Foundation in an initiative to challenge families to do more for their health (Athletes For Hope).

Photo credit: Jackie Joyner-Kersee Foundation