We are so proud of the inspiring AFH Athletes competing in the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. We were lucky enough to get a moment with Luger Preston Griffall before he took off to compete in the Doubles Luge. Wish Preston and the other AFH Athletes good luck on our Facebook Page or follow them by subscribing to our Twitter List.
What is the best part about being an Olympian?The best part about being an Olympian for me is that it gives me a platform to stand on to be a role model for younger athletes. It’s important for me to be able to leave some kind of legacy behind after i’m done with me athletic career and to be able to inspire the youth of the world to never stop dreaming; no matter what your dreams may be.
Who inspired or encouraged you to become the best in your sport?There are too many people in my life that have inspired me along my athletic career for me to just name one….. my dad always encouraged me to follow my dreams and above all have fun, my mom was my number one fan and inspired me to never give up and to always believe in myself and my long time coach Klim Gatker has always pushed me to the limit and made me trust that I had the ability to accomplish anything in sport.
What would you say to kids that are interested in your sport?To any kid out there that’s interested in Luge I would say; you will find no sport that will give you the same thrill!! If you love speed and adrenaline pumping through your veins then luge is the sport for you!
Do you have plans to see any other events in Sochi? Which ones?After i’m done with my competitions I will absolutely be cheering on my fellow Team USA athletes! I grew up skiing in Utah so naturally i’m a big fan of all the skiing events! I love all the freestyle events so I plan on being at the aerials competitions and definitely trying to see the new slope style events!
What charity would you like to give a “shout out” to and why?I’d like to give a shout out to the Youth Sports Alliance because they have done a tremendous job introducing the importance of sport to the youth around the Park City and Salt Lake City, Utah area.
Want to know what it is like to speed down a luge track at up to 80 miles an hour? Check out Preston and his USA Men’s Doubles Teammate Matt Mortensen on a training run. Wow!
Many of us have achieved so much in our lives as individuals, but we did not find the strength of character alone. We were all inspired to push ourselves harder to achieve greatness by someone – a parent, a coach, a teacher, a mentor. This holiday season, Athletes for Hope asks each of you to:
– Share who your biggest inspiration is on your twitter, facebook, instagram, and other social media accounts – remember to use the hashtag #AFHInspire
–Sign up to stay informed about AFH’s work in the community here. We will give away a signed Tony Hawk skateboard to one lucky person who signs up between now and December 21st.
–Support Athletes for Hope. AFH is able to touch the lives of people across the globe because of your generosity – no donation is too small. You can donate to AFH here.
This past weekend, Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving participated in Athletes for Hope’s 9-11 service week by visiting children and families at Beech Brook, a foster care and social services charity that serves over 22,000 people in Cleveland each year. Although the visit had been scheduled for a few weeks, the children had no idea that Kyrie was planning to visit them and were excited beyond belief when he unexpectedly walked into their classroom! Kyrie spent some time answering a variety of questions before heading to the basketball court to shoot some hoops and take pictures with each person. The kids loved meeting him and had much to say after the visit.
“Dear Mr. Kyrie: I appreciated you coming and talking to us young folk. Maybe you can get dunked on another time as well. But in all seriousness, you could stop by again to give some of these children something to live for,” Chris said.
After visiting with kids in the classroom, Kyrie headed over to meet with over 100 kids and families who participated in a Beech Brook fashion show which featured all sorts of fun, colorful, and exotic costumes. Kyrie spent time sharing insight about his own journey, such as the importance of his father’s influence in his life and all the hard work he put into achieving his lifelong dream to become a pro basketball player. He then spent time with many of the individuals while signing autographs and taking pictures.
Kyrie left quite an impression on many of the people who met him. One of those children is Joshua, who said, “Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to come see us. I will never forget that day.”
To learn more about Beech Brook and the incredible work they do on a daily basis, visit their website here.
Since participating in Athletes for Hope’s workshop with the San Diego Padres in 2010, Catcher Nick Hundley has helped to brighten the lives of sick children throughout the country.
In our first conversation with Nick, we discovered his tremendous passion for helping sick children, and shortly thereafter we coordinated Nick’s first visit to Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego, CA. Nick had so much fun with the kids and this sparked an even greater interest in giving back to those in need.
Since his first visit, Nick has taken the time to visit hospitals throughout the country, including those in Milwaukee, Phoenix, San Francisco, and Seattle. Even when he has very little free time when he is traveling with the Padres, Nick often makes time to visit those in need. When he is back in San Diego, Nick is a frequent visitor at Rady Children’s Hospital, and his impact has been felt by everyone who comes across his path.
Belinda Lanois of Rady Children’s Hospital said, “Thank you all for making my job the best job ever. Nick is extraordinary. Smiles and laughter filled the halls of the hemoc unit because of Nick. From telling jokes, to playing a game, to taking photos, Nick was completely genuine with each patient he met. He brought joy to every kiddo and family he visited with. On days like today, my heart fills and I know why I do what I do. We made a difference.”
Yesterday, Professional Skateboarder Doug Brown took time out of his busy schedule to visit with families at the Ronald McDonald in Cleveland, OH. During the visit, Doug shared several important life lessons and he also got to know many of the individuals on a deeper level.
“What an amazing day at the Ronald McDonald House,” Doug said. “Getting to bring a smile into their day was so rewarding.”
Doug has been devoted to giving back to the community for many years. It is not uncommon for Doug’s Facebook followers to see a variety of pictures and posts from Doug every week as he visits different charities throughout the country. In addition to his work with the Ronald McDonald House, Athletes for Hope has helped connect Doug to several other charities in 2013, such as the Boys and Girls Club of the Western Reserve, and First Book.
We are very lucky to work with such a passionate and giving person. Thank you for all that you do for the community, Doug!
Granite School District Earns National Recognition at Event Calling for Every School District in America to Have High Quality Physical Activity
Salt Lake City, UT – Hundreds of students warming up for their daily “Jolly Jogger” activity at Crestview Elementary School this morning received an inspiring message from some of the nation’s top athletes: Being active today is a great way to do better in school tomorrow.
The message was delivered by Chris Waddell, the most decorated male skier in Paralympic history; Emily Cook, two-time Olympian and five-time national champion aerial freestyle skier; Olympic speed skater Derek Parra; and Jacqui Little Rimando, WUSA soccer player. The athletes released a new research report, A New Game Plan for America, showing that physical activity increases academic achievement. They also called for every school district in America to have high quality physical education (PE), and for Congress to ensure that all school districts report how much and what kind of PE they’re offering. The reporting is important, the athletes said, because parents need to be assured schools are making physical activity a key part of every school day.
“The research in this report from the CDC and other top sources is surprising,” said Waddell. “The report shows that at least 30 minutes of physical activity at school can improve not only kids’ fitness but their academic achievement as well.”
“We want every school district in America to do what the Granite School District is doing,” said Cook. “When kids discover the joy of movement, they improve their academic performance.”
“Right now two out of three high school students in America do not get daily PE,” said Rimando. “We have to change our culture to make kids see physical activity – like walking or riding a bike – as something that’s as important as brushing their teeth and something they should do every day.”
The athletes came to Crestview Elementary for a ceremony that honored the Granite School District with the Innovation in Physical Activity Award, which was presented by Champions for America’s Future Vice President Jeff Kirsch, who recognized the Granite School District for its leadership. He noted that Congress has an opportunity to ensure more schools offer high quality PE as it considers K-12 education reform this year.
“Reporting on physical activity that students are getting should be as important as reporting on test scores and graduation rates,” said Kirsch. “As a nation, we recognize schools have a responsibility to serve healthy food to our kids. Physical activity is as central to keeping kids physically fit as a healthy lunch is to keeping them well-nourished.”
“Most kids won’t grow up to be Olympians, but they all deserve the opportunity to live healthy, fit lives,” said Athletes for Hope CEO Ivan Blumberg. “Schools like Crestview and others in the Granite School District are setting a great example for others to follow.”
In detailing the connections between physical activity and academic success, Kirsch noted that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reviewed available research studies and reported that 11 show that physical education at school enhanced academic achievement. Data reported by the Journal of Pediatrics showed that 20 minutes of moderate physical activity can help children with ADHD improve math and reading scores. A third study in Sweden examined one million 18-year-olds who joined the army and found that better fitness was correlated with higher I.Q.’s, even among identical twins. A New Game Plan for America also reports:
In one generation, childhood obesity has tripled. Today 17 percent of teenage girls and 20 percent of teenage boys are suffering from childhood obesity
Overweight children are more likely to become overweight or obese as adults. Among children who are already too heavy, 75 percent will be overweight or obese as adults.
In just 44 years, physical activity in the U.S. has declined by 32 percent, and is on track for a 46 percent drop by 2030. Among U.S. children, moderate to vigorous physical activity drops by 75 percent between the ages of 9 and 15.
Obesity has a significant, negative impact on the economy. The Institute of Medicine reports that annual medical spending on obesity-related illness is now $190 billion a year, with one in five dollars being spent on health care.
Champions for America’s Future is a national, bipartisan membership organization of athletes and coaches who have come together to make sure every child has the best chance to compete in life. Its members educate the public and policymakers at the local, state and national levels about proven, cost-effective programs that help children overcome obstacles that prevent them from competing successfully in the 21st Century.
Athletes for Hope is a non-profit organization founded in 2007 by philanthropic athletes, including Andre Agassi, Muhammad Ali, Warrick Dunn, Jeff Gordon, Mia Hamm, Tony Hawk, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Mario Lemieux, and Alonzo Mourning. As athletes who share a deep commitment to giving back, its founders joined forces to create an organization that brings athletes together to educate, inspire, and empower them to channel their energy for a common goal: to make a difference in the world.