Canadian Athletes Now Fund Celebrates Ten Years of Supporting Olympic Athletes

Canadian Athletes Now Fund 10-Year Video (4:42)

Canadian Athletes Now Fund, founded in 1997, is devoted solely to raising funds and awareness for Canada’s athletes. Otherwise known as the CAN Fund, the organization has been set up to help Canada’s athletes ready for international summer and winter Games. Monies donated to the Fund are put directly into the hands of Canadian elite athletes to support their training, coaching, nutrition and living expenses in preparation for international competition. The mission is to underwrite the expenses of as many Canadian athletes as possible, as support is needed years before the medals can be obtained (Canadian Athletes Now Fund).

Resolution? GM Strongly Encouraged VANOC to Work with Right to Play

Right to Play

In Vancouver, Gary Kingston reports that the Vancouver Olympic Organizing Committee “is re-evaluating what kind of presence the humanitarian organization Right to Play will have in 2010 after being criticized for barring the group from the athletes’ village.”

VANOC Executive VP Dave Cobb “said in a letter to newspaper editors that GM had been unfairly blamed for interfering with Right to Play’s desire to have a presence in the athletes’ village and had ‘strongly encouraged us’ to find a way to work with the organization” (Vancouver Sun, 10/9).

As previously noted on Progress Avenue, at issue is conflicting sponsorships. VANOC has an official sponsorship deal with General Motors, while Right to Play counts Mitsubishi as a supporter.

Right to Play May Be Snubbed From Vancouver Games Over Sponsor Conflict

Right to Play

In Toronto, Les Perreaux writes under the header, “Medalists Blast Vancouver For Barring Sports Charity.”

Perreaux reports that Canadian Olympic Gold Medalists “are scolding Olympic organizers and sponsor General Motors for freezing an athlete-driven charity out of the Vancouver Games.” Right To Play, “which teaches life skills through sports to children in poor and war-torn countries, has been banished by the Vancouver Organizing Committee for taking sponsorship from GM’s auto industry rival, Mitsubishi.”

Wrestler Daniel Igali “understands a major sponsor like GM needs to protect its interests. But he argues the move could severely damage a humanitarian organization founded by Olympic athletes.” Igali: “It would be really sad to see an athlete-centred organization borne out of the Olympic movement ostracized from the Olympic family.”

Speed Skater Clara Hughes added, “I’m baffled by this [sponsorship conflict]. I understand business, I understand protecting your brand, but it’s never been an issue in the past.”

Right to Play CEO Johann Koss said that Olympic Games organizers “have tolerated Right To Play’s outside sponsors since they first started setting up in the athlete’s village in Sydney in 2000.”

Perreaux notes that the “source of the conflict is two sponsorship deals. General Motors of Canada has an exclusive $67-million sponsorship with VANOC, while Right To Play recently signed a $480,000 deal with Mitsubishi Motor Sales” (Toronto Globe & Mail, 10/3).

Michael Phelps Will Be On the Auction Block at New York City Charity Event

The New York Post reports that U.S. Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, “who’s on the committee” for the Animal Care & Control of New York City charity event on Thursday, “agreed to auction himself off” for the charity. The package “will entitle two adults and a child to spend time in the pool with him and include a photo with the superstar and a limited-edition, autographed piece of memorabilia” (New York Post, 9/22).

Michael Phelps’ Memorabilia Deal to Help Charity; Phelps Hosts SNL Tonight

U.S. Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps’ new memorabilia deal with Grandstand Sports & Memorabilia “will help raise money for charity.” The AP: “Autographed photos, USA swim caps and Sports Illustrated magazine covers are among the collectibles” in Phelps’ one-year deal. Phelps: “I am honored that GSM will support my efforts to give back to the community by supporting a large network of charities across the country.”

SNL: Phelps is scheduled to host NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” tonight (AP, 9/12).

Swimmer Dara Torres Featured in PSA for National Psoriasis Foundation

Dara Torres PSA for National Psoriasis Foundation (0:30)

U.S. Olympic swimmer Dara Torres recently teamed up with the National Psoriasis Foundation to launch a national PSA to raise awareness that psoriasis is a serious disease of the immune system and not just a cosmetic condition. Torres, who has lived with psoriasis for nearly 20 years, is the first Olympic athlete to speak out about the disease.

Michael Phelps Using Foundation to Put Emphasis on Water Safety Awareness

Phelps on Bloomberg Television (1:16)

U.S. Olympic Gold Medalist Michael Phelps was recently on Bloomberg Television to discuss his foundation and water safety awareness.

Michael Phelps Offers More Details of His New Michael Phelps Foundation

After announcing the Michael Phelps Foundation on NBC’s “Today” show yesterday, U.S. Olympic Gold Medalist Michael Phelps released more details of his namesake foundation, which will be established with the $1 million bonus he will receive from Speedo for winning eight gold medals in the 2008 Beijing Games.

The Foundation’s first initiative will be an eight-city tour across the United States, in collaboration with long-time partner Speedo, to visit children and for Phelps to share his experiences in Beijing. The Tour will also serve as the launch of an education program, “Dream, Plan, Reach,” based on a simple yet powerful set of principles that Michael learned as a child and has applied to his everyday life. The Program will provide children with an understandable game plan for life that can extend beyond the swimming pool, to empower children to live healthy, active lives. “Dream, Plan, Reach” focuses on informed planning and goal-setting, and the importance of personal responsibility and discipline in adhering to that plan in day-to-day living.

Phelps: “My goals reach beyond the pool, to helping others realize their dreams, and continuing to grow the sport I love so much. I feel it’s only appropriate that I continue the momentum that Speedo helped to create, by committing my bonus to the establishment of the Michael Phelps Foundation, which I hope will help me inspire others to achieve their dreams, and give back to the sport that has given me so much” (Michael Phelps Foundation).

Michael Phelps Announces Foundation on NBC’s “Today” Show

The TODAYShow.com’s Bob Considine reports that U.S. Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps “will use the $1 million bonus he earned from Speedo for tying Mark Spitz’s record of seven gold medals to start his own foundation.”

Appearing on NBC’s “TODAY” this morning, Phelps “announced that the Michael Phelps Foundation will distribute his prize money to various charitable programs to promote water safety and encourage youth swimming.”

Phelps said that his foundation’s “first initiative will be an eight-city tour across the United States, in collaboration with Speedo, to launch an educational program called ‘Dream, Plan, Reach.’”

The program “will provide children with an easy-to-understand game plan for life beyond the pool, empowering them to live healthy and active lives while focusing on goal-setting, personal responsibility and discipline in day-to-day living (MSNBC.com, 9/2).

Come Fly With Me: Canadian Aerialist Blais Supporting Amateur Athletes

Ryan Blais Talks About His Foundation (2:22)

Canadian Olympic freestyle aerial skier Ryan Blais spoke about his Come Fly With Me Foundation at the recent The Friends of the Foundation’s 10th Anniversary Dinner.

In announcing the program in late 2006, Blais said, “The first aim of the CFWM foundation is to encourage and support amateur athletes that are striving to represent our community and country at the national and international stage. The second aim of the foundation is to create a ‘connection’ between Grande Prairians and the athletes that are representing them in various sports at various levels of competition. It is one of the foundations core beliefs that athletes should take pride in their community, and in turn, the community should take pride in its athletes.”

The foundation’s goal is to raise $200,000 by the 2010 Olympic Games through a variety of fundraising initiatives and awareness campaigns.

Donna Lopiano, Jackie Joyner-Kersee Lead the List of Featured Videos

Several videos have hit YouTube in recent days:

Lopiano: Donna Lopiano, former CEO of Women’s Sports Foundation Donna Lopiano argues that high costs of organized sports and a de-emphasis on physical education are creating a generation of unhealthy, sedentary children (FORA.tv):

Organized Sports – Donna Lopiano (5:19)

JJK: Six-time Olympic medalist Jackie Joyner-Kersee appeared on Bloomberg Television to discuss life after sports:

Joyner-Kersee on Bloomberg Television (5:57)

More videos after the jump [Read more…]

USA Today’s Brennan Pens Nice Piece on J&J Olympic Right to Play Program

USA Today’s Christine Brennan reported that Olympic athletes “came to a glistening corporate hospitality pavilion to support the Right to Play humanitarian organization at a benefit auction.” Brennan: “They came to talk not about themselves, but others: new coaches who can be trained in HIV and AIDS prevention in Liberia, the development and rehabilitation of safe play spaces in Uganda and the donation of play equipment for kids in Azerbaijan.”

Johnson & Johnson, sponsor of both the auction and “a unique medal grant program at these Games that supports” Right to Play. is “donating $20,000 per gold medal, $15,000 per silver and $10,000 per bronze won by those who have signed up to be Right to Play athlete ambassadors.” In the case of 8-time Gold Medalist Michael Phelps, he “would bring a windfall of $160,000 to Right to Play” by becoming an ambassador.

Phelps’ agent, Peter Carlisle, said that Phelps “is planning a ‘charitable component’ to his post-Olympic activities.” On partnering with Right to Play, Carlisle said, “It is a great organization and we have been speaking with them about different programs Michael might get involved in. Is he going to be involved in this? This is not a ‘no,’ and may well be a ‘yes.’ He’s considering it” (USA Today, 8/19).