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Olympians posing with their medals

STRIVE: The Power of Partners in Sport Philanthropy

Coming off a whopping 152 medals at the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru and looking towards Tokyo 2020, we have a lot to be proud of. Our Team Canada athletes are stronger than ever, performing at their peak, and bringing home the hardware. It’s always a moment of awe to watch one of our athletes put their all into their sport for their country and reach the coveted podium.

Recently, we’ve been beating records, like our 29 medals in PyeongChang, and achieving some major historic benchmarks in sport, like our first ever medal in surfing at the Pan Am Games, but we still have so far to go. Many of our athletes still have to park that Olympic dream on the sidelines due to lack of funding and financial support. The good news is, sport philanthropy in Canada is on the rise and we are proud to be a part of the movement for our athletes, working to help alleviate the cost of sport in Canada.

Mathea Olin riding the wave

LIMA, Peru – Mathea Olin of Canada competes in the women’s longboard finals at the Lima 2019 Pan American Games on August 04, 2019. Photo by Vincent Ethier/COC

Just last month, Eric and Vizma Sprott donated $3 million to our Canadian athletes through CAN Fund, recognizing that every day counts for Canadian athletes on their sport journey. Like the Canadian Olympic Foundation, CAN Fund provides recipients with the opportunity to focus on training and achieving their dreams, instead of unnecessary and often debilitating financial hurdles. It’s a huge win for our Team Canada athletes to see more Canadians supporting them financially, understanding that although they are professional athletes, they aren’t always paid the professional level paycheck.

RELATED: Celebrating YOU on our donor wall

It’s not just generous Canadians like you who are helping our athletes. Many of our Team Canada alumni are giving back after they retire from sport. Chandra Crawford is one of those Olympians. Having gone through her own struggles on her quest for gold, and being familiar with the sport landscape, following her Olympic career she saw the need to give back and help women in sport. From that, Fast and Female was born.

A Team Canada athlete poses with her medal

Chandra Crawford of Canmore, Alberta celebrates after winning the gold medal in the women’s sprint cross country skiing race at the Olympic Games in Pragelato Plan, Italy on Tuesday February 22, 2006. (CP PHOTO/Frank Gunn)

Founded in 2005, Fast and Female set out to encourage and empower girls to stay active in sports, creating a positive culture for all females around the world. They do this by identifying girls aged 8-14, and introducing them to athlete role models at non-competitive events all over North America, to show them that women can do anything they set their mind to. It’s about inclusion, empowerment, fun, being part of a bigger picture and being real.

Earlier this year, Fast and Female became an official registered charity in both Canada and the United States allowing them to make an even larger impact on the lives of young women in sport, helping to remove financial barriers and make strides for gender equality in the sport sphere.

RELATED: Olympic champion Crawford receives IOC Women and Sport Award

Classroom Champions is another great organization making a huge impact in the world of sport philanthropy all around the world, including Canada. Co-founded by Steve Mesler, a Team USA Olympian, the organization recognizes how the role of elite athletes can have a massive effect on the path children take in sport. We all have that moment where an athlete has inspired us to try a sport or even just doing something differently in our lives. The power of exposure and education is key to helping children become the best versions of themselves both on and off the field. It allows them to dream big and then achieve those goals.

A fan takes a picture with a Team Canada athlete

COC photo: Jenna Muirhead-Gould

Classroom Champions enables athletes to share their experiences of adversity and struggle, and then share in the celebration of achieving their goals. The outcome is a positive, long lasting impact that shapes the future of our future Olympians.

We are all in this together. Sport philanthropy is imperative to our athletes’ success on and off the podium. The more funding going into our sport system, the more our athletes can do what they love without the burden of crippling debt or wondering how they will get to their next competition, or simply just paying their grocery bill.

RELATED: Classroom Champions to be awarded 2018 IOC Trophy for Olympism in Action

Sport brings our country together, yet so many in our country cannot afford it and cannot afford to live their dreams of becoming an Olympian. We all want to change that. We are proud to support our athletes and you can help them live their dreams every day by supporting the Canadian Olympic Foundation. Your donation makes a huge difference in the lives of our Team Canada athletes. To donate now and help our athletes in urgent need, please visit our donation page here. We are all Team Canada.