IRONMAN Foundation to Host Gold Star Initiative and Support Navy SEAL Foundation at SUPERFROG
September 13, 2019
TAMPA, Fla. / IMPERIAL BEACH, Calif. (September 12, 2019) – The IRONMAN Foundation® will provide a $10,000 donation to the Navy SEAL Foundation in conjunction with the IRONMAN® 70.3® SUPERFROG® triathlon taking place on Sunday, Sept. 15 at Imperial Beach in Coronado, Calif., bringing the total awarded to the Navy SEAL Foundation to $194,000. In addition, the IRONMAN Foundation will distribute $15,000 in charitable giveback to non-profit initiatives and groups in the Imperial Beach region, including the Optimists Club of Coronado and the Islander Sports Foundation.
The original and longest running half-distance race, the SUPERFROG® Triathlon, was founded in 1979. The challenging course was designedby a group of Navy SEALs stationed at the US Navy SEALs center in Coronado to both prepare them for the IRONMAN World Championship® in Kailua-Kona, Hawai’i and to enhance their training.
The Navy SEAL Foundation provides immediate and ongoing support and assistance to the NSW community, their families, and the families of the fallen, wounded and transitioning NSW veterans. U.S. Navy SEALs have been in sustained combat for over 16 years, performing hazardous work in unforgiving environments at an unrelenting pace. SEALs can spend up to 270 days each year awayfrom their families. The Navy SEAL Foundation stands behind these warriors and their families by delivering comprehensive, world-class programs that specifically address the community’s unique needs.
Additionally, IRONMAN 70.3 SUPERFROG 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.
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.
At this race, Robert Verhelst will carry the flag to honor Navy Cmdr. Christopher E. Kalafut, who died in Qatar in 2014 serving during Operation Enduring Freedom. He will present the flag to Kalafut’s daughter, Meaghan. Kalafut’s wife, Mary, is a multi-time IRONMAN athlete. Verhelst, also known as “Fireman Rob,” is a former United States Airforce A1C, has spent 19 years as a fireman in Madison, Wis. and has raced multiple IRONMAN and IRONMAN 70.3 events in his firefighter gear.
“We are deeply honored to support the Navy SEAL Foundation and the powerful support system and community they have created,” said Sarah Hartmann, Executive Director of the IRONMAN Foundation. “We are also grateful for Gold Star Initiative Athlete Rob Verhelst, who carries the American flag to honor the service and sacrifice of Cmdr. Chris Kalafut. IRONMAN is about creating a sense of community, and through the generosity of our athletes, we are leaving a lasting and tangible impact in the local community.”
IRONMAN Foundation race entries were made available to athletes participating in the event, with $35 from each of those entries serving as a tax-deductible donation towards the IRONMAN Foundation Community Fund. The IRONMAN Foundation Community Fund provides community and volunteerism grant opportunities to non-profit organizations where IRONMAN events are held. In 2019, the IRONMAN Foundation will distribute more than $1.8 million in grant funding to support the needs of IRONMAN race communities across NorthAmerica.
About the Navy SEAL Foundation
The Navy SEAL Foundation provides immediate and ongoing support and assistance to the Naval Special Warfare (NSW) community and its families, the families of the fallen, wounded NSW warriors, transitioning NSW veterans as well as post-9/11 SEAL and SWCC veterans. The Foundation stands behind these warriors and their families by providing a comprehensive set of programs specifically designed to improve health and welfare, build and enhance resiliency, empower and educate families and provide critical support during times of illness, injury or loss. Like the community it serves, the Foundation is a solid, high-performingorganization committed to excellence. In 2016, 95 cents of every dollar donated went directly to current or future programs. This year the Navy SEAL Foundation received its 6th consecutive 4-star rating and its second ‘perfect 100’ score from Charity Navigator, a top charity watchdog, for sound fiscal management and commitment to accountability and transparency (top .6% of all rated charities). To learn more, visit www.navySEALfoundation.org or contact us at 757.363.7490
The Navy SEAL Foundation is a 501c3 national nonprofit charitable organization. TAX-ID 31-1728910. It is a non-federal entity,and it is not a part of the Department of Defense or any of its components. It has no governmental status.
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, IRONMANand 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 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®, IRONKIDS®, ITU World Triathlon Series, premier running events including the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon™ and The Sun-Herald City2Surf® presented by Westpac, Ultra-Trail® World Tour events including Tarawera Ultra and Ultra-Trail Australia™, mountain bike races including the Absa Cape Epic®, road cycling events, and other multisport races. The IRONMAN Group is the largest operator of mass participation sports in the world and provides more than a million participants annually the benefits of endurance sports through the company’s vast offerings. Since the inception of the iconic IRONMAN® brand and its first event in 1978, athletes have proven that ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE® by crossing finish lines around the world. Beginning as a single race, The IRONMAN Group has grown to become a global sensation with more than 235 events across 55+ countries. For more information, visit www.ironman.com.
About Wanda Sports Group
Wanda Sports Group (Nasdaq: WSG) 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. Through our businesses, including Infront and The IRONMAN Group, we have significant intellectual property rights, long-term relationships and broadexecution 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.