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IRONMAN Foundation to Host Gold Star Initiative and Community 5K presented by HOKA ONE ONE to Support Santa Rosa Parks Foundation

July 19, 2019

SANTA ROSA, Cali. / TAMPA, Fla. (July 19,2019) – The IRONMAN Foundation® today announced that it 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 $25,000 in charitable giveback will be distributed to nonprofit initiatives and groups in the greater Santa Rosa region, bringing this year’s total awarded to over $73,000 in the region and more than $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 8:00 a.m. at Julliard Park.

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 nonprofit running community that honors the service and sacrifice of the American military. Through the Gold Star Initiative, IRONMAN athletes who have served in the U.S. 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 honor 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. 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 is a competitive horseshoer and blacksmith who resides in Angels Camp, California.
  • Eric Keith: Racing to honor Air Force A1C Alfred Komlev, who was born in St. Petersburg, Russia and moved to California with his parents as a child. Eric will present the flag to Alfred’s mother, Tatiana Oddson. Eric served in the U.S. 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 honor Air Force Senior Airman Jonathan Antoñio Vega Yelner, killed by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan in April 2008. Michelle will present the flag to Jonathan’s mother, Yolanda Vega. Michelle served as Special Forces in the United States Air Force.

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 honored to support our three Gold Star Families and are grateful for our Gold Star Initiative Athletes who will carry the American flag to honor 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 8:00 a.m. at Julliard 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 honored 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 neighbors, friends and community.”

More information on the IRONMAN Foundation Community 5K presented by HOKA ONE ONE, including registration, can be found by visiting www.ironmanfoundation.org/santarosa5k.

More information on the Sonoma County Builders IRONKIDS, including registration, can be found by visiting www.ironman.com/santarosaironkids.

For more information on IRONMAN and the IRONMAN Foundation, please visit www.ironman.com and www.ironmanfoundation.org. For media related inquiries, please contact [email protected].

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About the IRONMAN Foundation 

The IRONMAN Foundation® creates positive, tangible change in race communities by engaging athletes and volunteers to participate in programs that demonstrate service through sport and commitment to community. Since 2003, over $50,000,000 has been provided through IRONMAN charitable giveback programs including the IRONMAN Foundation to more than 8,300 local, regional, national and global nonprofit initiatives. Through these partnerships, IRONMAN and Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series athletes are powerfully linked to the community and together we leave the IRONMAN legacy behind in our race communities long after event day. For more information on IRONMAN Foundation programs, including Team IMF, Community Fund, Rock This Town™, Your Journey Your Cause, and Women For Tri, visit www.ironmanfoundation.org.

About HOKA ONE ONE

HOKA ONE ONE® is the fastest growing premium running shoe brand in the world. Two life-long runners launched HOKA in 2009, after years spent handcrafting and shaping lightweight shoes with extra-thick midsoles. Initially embraced by ultrarunners because of their enhanced cushioning and inherent stability, HOKA now offers shoes for all types of athletes who enjoy the unique ride the shoes provide. For more information visit hokaoneone.com or follow @hokaoneone #timetofly.

About The IRONMAN Group

As part of Wanda Sports Group, The IRONMAN Group operates a global portfolio of events that includes the IRONMAN® Triathlon Series, the IRONMAN® 70.3® Triathlon Series, 5150™ Triathlon Series, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series®, Iron Girl®, IRONKIDS®, International Triathlon Union World Triathlon Series races, road cycling events including the Velothon® Series, mountain bike races including the Absa Cape Epic®, premier running events including the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon and The Sun-Herald City2Surf® presented by Westpac, trail running like Ultra-Trail Australia™, and other multisport races. IRONMAN’s events, together with all other Wanda Sports Holdings events, provide more than a million participants annually the benefits of endurance sports through the company’s vast offerings. The iconic IRONMAN® Series of events is the largest participation sports platform in the world. Since the inception of the IRONMAN® brand in 1978, athletes have proven that ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE® by crossing finish lines at the world’s most challenging endurance races. Beginning as a single race, IRONMAN has grown to become a global sensation with more than 230 events across 53 countries. For more information, visit www.ironman.com.

About Wanda Sports Group

Wanda Sports Group is a leading global sports events, media and marketing platform with a mission to unite people in sports and enable athletes and fans to live their passions and dreams. We have significant intellectual property rights, long-term relationships and broad execution capabilities, enabling us to deliver unrivalled sports event experiences, creating access to engaging content and building inclusive communities. We offer a comprehensive array of events, marketing and media services through three primary segments: Mass Participation, Spectator Sports and Digital, Production, Sports Solutions (DPSS). Our full-service platform creates value for our partners and clients as well as other stakeholders in the sports ecosystem, from rights owners, to brands and advertisers, and to fans and athletes.

Headquartered in Beijing, China, Wanda Sports Group has more than 60 offices and 1,600 employees around the world.