CINCINNATI — As an Olympic sponsor for the past 10 years, Procter & Gamble’s focus is on celebrating and supporting the unique journeys athletes take on the road to their Olympic dreams, including the causes they champion and the work they do to drive positive change in their communities.
In the lead up to the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, P&G was inspired by the selfless actions of Olympic and Paralympic athletes around the world who stepped up and served others. This led P&G to create the Athletes for Good Fund in partnership with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and International Paralympic Committee (IPC). Its purpose is to honor and fuel the work of Olympic and Paralympic athletes and hopefuls who lend their time, talent, and resources to charitable causes in the areas of Community Impact, Equality & Inclusion, and Environmental Sustainability. For Tokyo 2020, Athletes for Good Fund provided more than $500,000 in grants to help fuel the efforts of the recipients’ charities of choice.
Today, during a virtual panel discussion dubbed “Champions and the Causes They Champion,” co-hosts Olympic Gold Medalist Nastia Liukin (USA, Gymnastics Legend) and Olympic Silver Medalist Gus Kenworthy (Great Britain, Freestyle Skiing) were joined by four athletes who are not only incredible competitors, but also display compassion, humanity, and goodness on and off the field of play. Through their inspiring stories, we learned how each panelist found motivation based on their personal experiences, along with their passion to get involved to create positive change within their communities. Panelists included:
- Mariah Duran*, USA, Skateboarding: Having experienced firsthand the intimidation of competing in a male-dominated sport with few female mentors, Mariah serves as a role model, mentor, and advocate for young girls in skate. Through her work with Skate Like A Girl, she encourages the next generation of girls to continue pursuing their passion.
- Alice Dearing*, Great Britain, Swimming: As the first Black woman to swim for Team Great Britain at any Olympic Games, Alice has experienced the barriers within the sport of swimming that are faced among people of color. Taking matters into her own hands, Alice is a lead ambassador for the Black Swimming Association (BSA), focusing on increasing participation and changing attitudes to attract more Black people to understand the importance of learning to swim.
- Brian Afanador*, Puerto Rico, Table Tennis: After Hurricane Maria left a devastating effect on Puerto Rico, Brian used his platform as an Olympic athlete to expand awareness to help his community. In collaboration with #Yonomequito Foundation, he has helped to rebuild homes and provide necessities, like food, fresh water, and emergency services to local families in need.
- Erica Sullivan, USA, Swimming: As an openly gay, Asian American swimmer, Erica has stepped up to advocate for intersectional equality in sport. During Tokyo 2020, she used her press conference as an opportunity to bring awareness to minority groups, including the LGBTQ+ community.
“The spirit of the Olympic Games has the power to lift us up and unite us, and these incredible athletes have all taken that spirit beyond the Olympic and Paralympic Movement, and into their communities with a goal of creating positive change,” said host Nastia Liukin. “It’s inspiring to see organizations, like P&G, continuing to celebrate athletes both on and off the field, supporting their efforts to fuel good in communities so others will be inspired to do the same.”
“For me, being an Olympian is much more than just excelling at my sport; it’s also about using my platform to help the next generation of women skaters coming up reach their potential and dream big,” Mariah Duran shared. “I would not be where I am today without the community and experiences I got at Skate Like A Girl. This organization is a prominent voice for gender equality and inclusion in skateboarding and their events, camps and after school programs help make an unreal scenario, real. I am so appreciative of P&G and Athletes for Good for supporting them.”
You can view the full panel conversation here.