Ambassadors and new Mālama Club to support IRONMAN Foundation year-round
TAMPA, Fla. – The IRONMAN Foundation® announced today the 2018 IRONMAN Foundation Ambassador Team and the creation of the Mālama Club. In celebration of IRONMAN’s 40th Anniversary, the IRONMAN Foundation has expanded its ambassador program by launching the Mālama Club, a team of 14 IRONMAN athletes who are ardent supporters of the IRONMAN Foundation’s mission of creating positive, tangible change in race communities and embody the spirit of the Hawaiian word Mālama, meaning to “take care of, preserve and protect.”
The supporting 2018 IRONMAN Foundation Ambassador Team is comprised of 22 carefully selected members: 19 age-group athletes; Team Captain, the “Voice of IRONMAN” Mike Reilly; and pro triathletes Mirinda Carfrae, a three-time IRONMAN® World Champion, and Timothy O’Donnell, a multi-year IRONMAN World Championship top-ten finisher. Ambassadors have been chosen for their outstanding involvement in their own communities and will continue to exemplify what it means to ‘Race for More’ by focusing their efforts on the IRONMAN Foundation’s 16 service projects this season. In 2017, the IRONMAN Foundation Ambassador team supported 14 service projects and contributed to the IRONMAN Foundation’s $1.5 million total in grant funding to 1,380 organizations in IRONMAN race communities.
“Having the honor of representing the IRONMAN Foundation last year as the Ambassador Captain was one of the highlights of my career,” said Reilly. “To be able to give back and help those in need throughout our IRONMAN communities is very gratifying and needed. I am looking forward to continuing that role in 2018 and hope others consider being a part of the IRONMAN Foundation team this year.”
Age-group athlete ambassadors include Shannon Spake, Mike Ergo and Derek Fitzgerald. Shannon Spake is a multiple IRONMAN 70.3 finisher and a veteran sports broadcaster with FOX Sports covering NASCAR, college basketball, college football and the NFL. In 2017, she was named co-host of FS1’s daily NASCAR news and highlights program “NASCAR RACE HUB,” while continuing to host NASCAR RACEDAY-XFINITY live from the track preceding each weekend’s NASCAR XFINITY SERIES race. Most recently, Spake voiced the role of “Shannon Spokes” in Disney Pixar’s Cars 3. Despite being diagnosed with scoliosis as a child and undergoing back surgery at thirteen, she swam competitively through high school and college and has been committed to staying active ever since.
Mike Ergo is a Marine Corps veteran who completed several tours in Iraq. He took part in the heavy urban combat during the Second Battle of Fallujah in 2004. While there, 29 of his battalion brothers lost their lives. Once he got back to the United States, Mike self-medicated to numb the pain. After he was diagnosed with PTSD, Mike used triathlon as a recovery tool. During each event, Mike wears the names of his fallen Marine Corps brothers on his race kit and dedicates the races to their memory and families. Last year, he competed in the IRONMAN World Championship as an IRONMAN Ambassador Athlete for his commitment to helping his fellow veterans.
At 40-years-old, Derek Fitzgerald became the first American heart transplant recipient to complete a full-distance IRONMAN race. Before that, he spent a decade battling cancer and heart failure as he suffered from Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. After his first IRONMAN 70.3 triathlon, he co-founded the Tin Man Endurance Team comprised exclusively of heart transplant recipients. He also created a new foundation called The Recycledman Foundation whose mission is to educate and inspire supporters of advancements in cancer research, heart health, and organ donation. As an entrepreneur and technologist, Derek has spent the last 15+ years creating successful tech companies that specialize in building solutions for pharmaceutical and healthcare organizations.
Members of the Mālama Club include Marcus Cook. Last May, Marcus was down 250 pounds from the 500 pounds he weighed just two years earlier. Cook started his journey by walking 20 minutes a day, and eventually moved up to a sprint triathlon. He then completed IRONMAN Texas in April with his sights on the 2018 IRONMAN World Championship, all with the goal of raising money for the IRONMAN Foundation. The 45-year-old oil and gas executive continues to find ways to use his story to impact those he knows and those he hasn’t met yet. In pursuit of this, he has increased his original fundraising goal for the IRONMAN Foundation from $40,000 to $100,000 this year.
“It’s an extraordinary moment when an IRONMAN athlete has the opportunity to connect directly with the cause they support and make a difference in their race community,” said Sarah Hartmann, acting Executive Director of the IRONMAN Foundation. “Our 2018 Ambassador and Mālama Club athletes truly embody our mantra of ‘Service Through Sport and Commitment to Community,’ and we are deeply grateful for their service and support.”
2018 IRONMAN Foundation Ambassador Team
Team Captain, Mike Reilly – San Diego, California
Pro Ambassador, Mirinda Carfrae – Boulder, Colorado
Pro Ambassador, Timothy O’Donnell – Boulder, Colorado
Melissa Bowman – Chicago, Illinois
Sam Cardona – New York, New York
Mike Ergo – Walnut Creek, California
Derek Fitzgerald – Doylestown, Pennsylvania
Woodrow “Woody” Freese – Newton, Massachusetts
Pablo Fuente – Boadilla del Monte, Spain
Daniel Giblin – Rochester, New York
Sheila Hiestand – Louisville, Kentucky
Alex Holderness – Denver, Colorado
Robert Maar – Plainfield, Indiana
Jason Massie – Johns Creek, Georgia
Erica Maynard-Uliasz – Fort Myers, Florida
Stephanie Middleton – Hingham, Massachusetts
Erik Romanov – Hewitt, Texas
Gina Shand – Chesterfield, Virginia
Shannon Spake McSorley – Cornelius, North Carolina
Khem Suthiwan – Denver, Colorado
Alderlan Vitalino – Sao Jose Dos Campos, São Paolo, Brazil
David Wilson – Lawrence, Kansas
2018 Mālama Club
Louis Burns – Granite Bay, California
Marcus Cook – Houston, Texas
Timothy Deer – Charleston, West Virginia
Renzo DiCarlo – Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Kevin Edmonds – College Park, Georgia
Shay Eskew – Brentwood, Tennessee
Midge Kerr – Avalon, New Jersey
Zouheir Louhaichy – New York, New York
John McGrath – Paradise City, Arizona
Kelly Monahan – Irvine, California
John Ratzan – Montclair, New Jersey
Brenda Smith – New York, New York
Victor Trevino – Laredo, Texas
Bob Whitman – Park City, Utah
For more information on the 2018 IRONMAN Foundation Ambassador Team, visit www.ironmanfoundation.org/ambassadorteam. For more on the Mālama Club and the 2018 members, visit www.ironmanfoundation.org/malamaclub.
For more information on the IRONMAN Foundation and to register as a volunteer for the 2018 IRONMAN Foundation service projects, visit www.ironmanfoundation.org/imf-in-service. For media related inquiries, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
About The IRONMAN Foundation
The IRONMAN Foundation® creates positive, tangible change in IRONMAN 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 6,300 local, regional, national and global nonprofit initiatives. Through these partnerships, IRONMAN 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, Your Journey Your Cause, and Women For Tri, visit www.ironmanfoundation.org.
A Wanda Sports Holdings company, IRONMAN 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 UCI Velothon® Series, mountain bike races including the Absa Cape Epic®, premier marathons including the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon, 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 200 events across 50 countries. For more information, visit www.ironman.com.
About Wanda Sports Holdings
Wanda Sports Holdings is the world’s leading sports business entity, founded to capture the opportunities in the global sports industry and to contribute to the prosperous international sports landscape – in three key areas: 1) Spectator Sports (media & marketing business), 2) Participation Sports (active lifestyle business), 3) Services (digital, production and service business). Wanda Sports Holding incorporates the international sports marketing company Infront Sports & Media, the iconic endurance brand IRONMAN, and Wanda Sports China. The headquarters are in Guangzhou, China.