USA Triathlon Foundation Raises $180k at the USA Triathlon Foundation Gala and Hall of Fame Induction

August 14, 2023

MILWAUKEE, Wis. /ENDURANCE SPORTSWIRE/ – More than $180,000 was raised to support the USA Triathlon Foundation’s mission of swim, bike and run for all during the 2023 USA Triathlon Foundation Gala and Hall of Fame Induction, which was attended by more than 430 people on Aug. 3 at Discovery World in Milwaukee.

The evening honored some of our sport’s greatest icons, along with highlighting leaders in the multisport community and inspirational stories from athletes supported by the USA Triathlon Foundation. Special guests included 2000 Olympic Silver Medalist and 2006 Ironman World Champion Michellie Jones; USA Triathlon Project Podium Athletes Sullivan Middaugh and Reese Vannerson; and Team Thrive Athlete Abigail Adams.

Mike Reilly, legendary announcer and member of USA Triathlon’s Hall of Fame and IRONMAN Hall of Fame, served as the Master of Ceremonies. More than 35 top athletes were recognized as winners of USA Triathlon’s annual Multisport Awards and Athlete of the Year Awards, presented by Wahoo Fitness. The evening culminated with the formal induction and celebration of the 12th induction class of the USA Triathlon Hall of Fame, the 12 finishers of the original Hawaiian Iron Man Triathlon, which include:

• Gordon Haller
• John Dunbar
• Dave Orlowski
• Ian Emberson
• Sterling Lewis
• Tom Knoll
• Henry Forrest
• Frank Day
• John Collins
• Archie Hapai
• Dan Hendrickson
• Harold Irving

“As we look toward the upcoming Paris Olympic and Paralympic games, you will hear our rallying cry of “Ignite the Spark” throughout our communications and marketing. This year is about celebrating all who Ignite the Spark in our multisport community, and I cannot think of 12 individuals who represent the collective spirit of triathlon more than the extraordinary individuals we are here to honor,” said Victoria Brumfield, USA Triathlon CEO. “These trailblazers made a lasting impact on the triathlon community, playing a pivotal role in shaping long course racing to what it has become today. Their indomitable spirit pushed the boundaries of human potential, and their success continues to inspire countless others to dream big and conquer the impossible.”

“Nobody could ever imagine what we did would turn into all of this,” said Frank Day during his acceptance speech.

All proceeds from the 2023 USA Triathlon Foundation Gala and Hall of Fame Induction benefit the USA Triathlon Foundation, which is the charitable arm of USA Triathlon. The USA Triathlon Foundation supports the multisport community through charitable givebacks and grants that advance its three pillars: Encourage youth participation; Inspire adaptive athletes and Ignite Olympic & Paralympic dreams.

“Let’s celebrate as a community, bonded by our shared love for our sport, and applaud the triumphs of these exceptional individuals. It is essential that we honor their legacy not only through applause but also by actively supporting the USA Triathlon Foundation. Your support will significantly contribute to the growth and prominence of triathlon as a sport in the United States,” Brumfield said.

Another highlight of the annual fundraiser was a silent auction featuring a variety of rare memorabilia from Olympic and Paralympic history, state-of-the-art triathlon gear, and access to special experiences. The opportunity to bid on the bike that propelled Olympian Katie Zaferes to win two medals at the 2020 Tokyo Games catapulted the auction’s fundraising total to nearly $50,000. Other popular items included registration to 2024 USA Triathlon Foundation Training Camp; race entries to the highly sought-after 2024 DATEV Challenge Roth; and experience packages hosted by USA Triathlon Project Podium’s coach and development athletes, as well as the U.S. Paratriathlon Resident Team.

Since it was established in 2014, the Foundation has provided millions of dollars in grants to organizations and individuals in pursuit of its mission and pillars to create a healthier United States through triathlon.

Founded in 2008, the USA Triathlon Hall of Fame has recognized the best performances and contributions in the sport’s history, dating back to its origins in 1974. It recognizes, honors and commemorates individuals, groups and entities who demonstrate excellence in multisport and inspire others to elevate their performance, participation and involvement in multisport in their communities.

About the USA Triathlon Hall of Fame Class XII and original 1978 Hawaii Ironman Triathlon:

The original “Iron Man” — as it was called then — was the creation of Judy and John Collins, members of the USA Triathlon Hall of Fame Induction Class VI, who had participated in the Mission Bay Triathlon in San Diego in 1974, known as the start of modern triathlon in the U.S. Their goal with the event was to create an endurance sports challenge combining swimming, biking and running that offered athletes the opportunity to race longer than anything they’d done before.

Fifteen competitors — with their own support crews and no aid stations — started the race on Feb. 18, 1978 on the island of O’ahu, Hawai’i with the chance to complete the event and brag for the rest of their lives. Twelve finished, led by Gordon Haller, John Dunbar and Dave Orlowski.

Haller earned the inaugural victory in 11 hours, 46 minutes, and 40 seconds, where he finished in the quiet evening at Honolulu’s Kapiolani Park without spectators, TV cameras, or a public-address announcer screaming his name — far different than the spectacle of today’s IRONMAN World Championships.

“We were just a bunch of ordinary guys who decided to do it. And other people saw that and decided to do it, too,” Haller said in a previous interview about the race.

Orlowski, then a 22-year-old U.S. Marines veteran, finished third in 13 hours, 59 minutes, 13 seconds. He famously rode the bike in a pair of cut-off jean shorts so he could carry cash in his pockets to buy food and drinks during the ride. He’d go on to race 29 IRONMAN events and frequently spoke about the impact triathlon had on his life. Orlowski passed away in 2020 after a lengthy battle with leukemia.

“It does so much for people, and it’s done so much for me in building my life,” Orlowski said in a previous interview. “When you cross that finish line … it changes your life.”

USA Triathlon Hall of Fame Inductees by Class:

Class XII (induction ceremony held Aug. 3, 2023, in Milwaukee, Wis.)
Original 12 Ironman Finishers:
John Collins (Age Group Athlete)
Frank Day (Age Group Athlete)
John Dunbar (Age Group Athlete)
Ian Emberson (Age Group Athlete)
Henry Forrest (Age Group Athlete)
Gordon Haller (Age Group Athlete)
Archie Hapai (Age Group Athlete)
Dan Hendrickson (Age Group Athlete)
Harold Irving (Age Group Athlete)
Tom Knoll (Age Group Athlete)
Sterling Lewis (Age Group Athlete)
Dave Orlowski (Age Group Athlete)

Class XI (induction ceremony held Aug. 4, 2022, in Milwaukee, Wis.)
Laura Bennett (Elite Athlete)
Lesley Cens-McDowell (Age Group Athlete)
Gwen Jorgensen (Elite Athlete)
Robert Plant (Age Group Athlete)

Class X (induction ceremony held Jan. 25, 2020, in Tempe, Ariz.)
Cherie Gruenfeld (Contributor)
Dick and Rick Hoyt (Age-Group Athletes)
Mike Plant (Contributor)

Class IX (Induction ceremony held Aug. 9, 2018, in Cleveland, Ohio)
Hunter Kemper (Elite Athlete)
Mike Reilly (Contributor)
Donna Smyers (Age-Group Athlete)
James Ward (Age-Group Athlete)

Class VIII (Induction ceremony held Jan. 16, 2016, in Colorado Springs, Colo.)
Harriet Anderson (Age-Group Athlete)
Roger Brockenbrough (Age-Group Athlete)
Ken Glah (Elite Athlete)
Siri Lindley (Elite Athlete)

Class VII (Induction ceremony held April 18, 2015, in Boston)
Bill Bell (Age-Group Athlete)
Tim DeBoom (Elite Athlete)
Dan Empfield (Contributor)
Karen McKeachie (Age-Group Athlete)
Carlos Moleda (Age-Group Athlete)
Susan Williams (Elite Athlete)

Class VI (Induction ceremony held June 26, 2014, in Chicago)
Sister Madonna Buder (Age-Group Athlete)
John and Judy Collins (Contributors)
Mike Pigg (Elite Athlete)
Tom Warren (Contributor)

Class V (Induction ceremony held April 18, 2013, in San Diego)
Missy LeStrange (Age-Group Athlete)
Jim MacLaren (Contributor)
Julie Moss (Contributor)

Class IV (Induction ceremony held May 10, 2012, in San Diego)
Mark Allen (Elite Athlete)
Ethel Autorino (Age-Group Athlete)
Bob Babbitt (Contributor)
Sally Edwards (Contributor)
Scott Molina (Elite Athlete)
Scott Tinley (Elite Athlete)

Class III (Induction ceremony held Jan. 15, 2011, in Colorado Springs, Colo.)
Susan Bradley-Cox (Age-Group Athlete)
Dave McGillivray (Contributor)
Dave Scott (Elite Athlete)

Class II (Induction ceremony held Feb. 13, 2010, in Colorado Springs, Colo.)
Jim Curl (Contributor)
Barb Lindquist (Elite Athlete)
Paula Newby-Fraser (Elite Athlete)
Valerie Silk (Contributor)
Carl Thomas (Contributor)

Class I (Induction ceremony held Jan. 17, 2009, in Colorado Springs, Colo.)
Judy Flannery (Age-Group Athlete)
Jon Gray Noll (Contributor)
Verne Scott (Contributor)
Karen Smyers (Elite Athlete)
Sheila Taormina (Elite Athlete)

About the USA Triathlon Foundation 

The USA Triathlon Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and the charitable arm of USA Triathlon. With its mission to transform lives through sport by providing opportunities to swim, bike and run, the Foundation serves to generate a greater impact on the multisport community through charitable giveback and grants that advance the Foundation’s three pillars: (1) Encourage youth participation; (2) Inspire pathways to access and inclusion; and (3) Ignite Olympic/Paralympic dreams. Since the Foundation was established in 2014, it has impacted the lives of thousands by providing grants to organizations and individuals in pursuit of its mission and pillars to create a healthier United States through triathlon. To learn more about the Foundation and get involved, please visit usatriathlonfoundation.org.

About USA Triathlon
USA Triathlon is proud to serve as the National Governing Body for triathlon, as well as duathlon, aquathlon, aquabike, winter triathlon, off-road triathlon, paratriathlon, and indoor and virtual multisport events in the United States. Founded in 1982, USA Triathlon sanctions more than 4,000 races and connects with more than 400,000 members each year, making it the largest multisport organization in the world. In addition to its work at the grassroots level with athletes, coaches, and race directors — as well as the USA Triathlon Foundation — USA Triathlon provides leadership and support to elite athletes competing at international events, including World Triathlon Championships, Pan American Games and the Olympic and Paralympic Games. USA Triathlon is a proud member of World Triathlon and the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC) – to learn more: usatriathlon.org

CONTACT: STEPHEN MEYERS (stephen.meyers@usatriathlon.org, 719-884-5616)