Olympic athletes giving back
The U.S. women’s Olympic wrestling team put their athleticism to a different use this July by joining Outreach International in the hike to end global poverty. The team participated in the organization’s Summit Challenge, a task which consists of raising money while tackling Colorado trails. Their participation reflects a long history of U.S. Olympic athletes giving back to others.

Outreach International is an organization that has spent nearly four decades pursuing sustainable solutions to global poverty. They focus on sustainability through investing in people, not projects, in the ten countries in which they work. They place focus on avoiding quick-fix solutions. Also, they train communities to derive lasting use from the aid they receive.

The organization’s Summit Challenge involves creating individual and team campaigns to hike Colorado’s peaks for charity. Participants seek sponsorship for the various hikes they complete. One hundred percent of the funds raised through those sponsorships are donated to Outreach International’s fight against poverty. So far, Team USA Wrestling is the highest fundraising team participating in the Summit Challenge.

There is no shortage of precedent of Olympic athletes giving back. Countless have used their position to create individual foundations, like the Michael Phelps Foundation or the Mia Hamm Foundation. Many others have partnered with existing foundations, including swimmer Missy Franklin’s work with water cleanliness and accessibility charity One Drop USA.

For the USA Wrestling team, working with the Summit Challenge presented an opportunity to continue the legacy of U.S. Olympic teams’ involvement in charity work. The team joined a group hike of St. Mary’s Trail in Fairplay, Colorado, and then attended a Summit Challenge benefit dinner. The dinner also provided the chance to discuss the significance of women in the fight against global poverty. The discussion focused on women’s rights and how to augment women’s mobility.

For the athletes at the dinner, these issues were especially real because many of their global opponents struggle with the very same poverty-related issues being discussed. The athletes also discussed the similarity between their opportunity to work hard towards their goals and Outreach International’s mission to empower women globally to be able to work toward their goals.

As the Summer 2016 Olympic Games approach, athletes on Team USA and around the world continue to give back.

Charlotte Bellomy

Photo: Outreach International