Eleven organizations and four aspiring athletes from the Lake Placid region were awarded a combined total of $41,500 in grants from the Uihlein-Ironman Sports Fund at an awards ceremony at Heaven Hill Farm last Sunday.
The Uihlein-Ironman Sports Fund of Lake Placid makes awards to local athletes competing at the regional, national, and international levels. Grants are also awarded to nonprofit organizations that promote participation in life-long summer and winter sports for local kids, promoting a healthy lifestyle and athletic excellence.
The fund was established at ACT in 2004 by the Henry Uihlein II and Mildred A. Uihlein Foundation and World Triathlon Corporation (formerly North America Sports Inc.). Awards are recommended annually by a committee of local residents and representatives from the sponsoring organizations.
With the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi on the horizon, the committee opted to award larger grants to four local Olympic hopefuls: Annelies Cook, biathlon; Jamie Greubel, bobsled; Peter Frenette, ski jumping; and Esther Munoz, speed-skating. The funds will be used to pay for training expenses as these athletes compete for the right to represent their country at the Olympics.
“Ironman is proud to be involved with the support of aspiring local Olympians as they prepare to compete at Sochi 2014,” said Jeff Edwards, vice president of North American Operations at World Triathlon Corporation. “Every four years, we devote a greater proportion of the annual Uihlein-Ironman Sports Fund grant money to these athletes as they embark upon their quest for international success. We look forward to tracking their progress this winter. Ironman is also excited to continue its support of the grassroots programs that nurture participation in youth sports as well as develop Olympians of the future.”
“As athletes, we approach what we do as our job,” Cook said. “We do receive support from the United States Olympic Committee, but it’s up to us to supplement whatever we can so we can do our job, and we don’t make very much as athletes. We’re competing against athletes in Europe who have a lot of financial resources available to them. This grant really makes a huge difference and helps us keep pace.”
“I’m so grateful to receive this award this year,” Greubel said. “Lake Placid really holds a special place in my heart and has been there for every step of the journey for me. This community really understands what it takes to make our dream become a reality.”
“Esther is just a tenth of a second off from making her first Olympic qualifying time,” said Tom Miller, Munoz’s coach. “This award will be used for her travel expenses. She will be competing in Salt Lake City, Minnesota, Milwaukee and Calgary, so this is greatly appreciated.”
The New York Ski Education Foundation (NYSEF) was awarded a grant which will be used by coaches in the Nordic, alpine and Nordic combined programs to support aspiring athletes.
“This support means so much to countless numbers of kids,” said Jay Rand, executive director of NYSEF. “We have more than 400 kids in our Alpine, Nordic, Nordic combined, biathlon, and free-ride programs. We’d like to double that. One way to do that is through financial support because these sports are expensive. Anything we can get makes a big difference, and this award is much appreciated.”
Ten other local organizations received grants, including:
– Lake Placid Youth Athletic Association for hockey rink upgrades
– Friends of Mt. Pisgah for the youth ski program
– Dewey Mountain Friends for youth ski equipment
– Saranac Lake Nordic Ski Club for travel, equipment and training expenses
– YENGA (Saranac Lake Middle School) for the Learn to Ski program
– Petrova Elementary School for the Swim for Life and snowshoe programs
– Lake Placid Outing Club for equipment for water programs
– Town of Jay for Grove Park Wilderness Play Area
– Saranac Lake Pee Wee Hockey Association for safety equipment
– Tri-Lakes Youth Lacrosse for the beginner lacrosse program
“We are thrilled to provide support to these athletes as they strive to achieve their Olympic goals,” said Cali Brooks, ACT’s executive director. “We’re also proud to support these local nonprofits: They play a critical role in fostering a love of physical activity and the outdoors among Olympic region youngsters.”
Cook also thanked ACT, the Henry Uihlein II and Mildred A. Uihlein Foundation and World Triathlon Corporation for supporting local nonprofit organizations.
“I am a direct result of the Dewey Mountain and NYSEF programs,” she said. “The success of those programs has really impacted my life in a tremendous manner.”
Photo: Recipients of Uihlein-Ironman Sports Fund awards gather with representatives of ACT, the Henry Uihlein II and Mildred A. Uihlein Foundation and World Triathlon Corporation at a ceremony at Heaven Hill on Sunday.