As part of race week activities for the 2021 Certified Piedmontese IRONMAN® North American Championship, The IRONMAN Foundation and The IRONMAN Group held an event today at the W.L. Hutcherson Family YMCA in Tulsa, Oklahoma, to kick off the community engagement portion of its global diversity campaign, Race for Change®.
The Race for Change initiative was launched in 2020 to address barriers that might prevent Black athletes and other diverse groups from participating in triathlons. Through this platform, an initial pledge of $1 million to support programming that will help ensure equity for athletes in the sport of triathlon.
“Since its inception, IRONMAN has represented breaking barriers and redefining what is possible,” said Shane Facteau, COO of The IRONMAN Group and President of the IRONMAN Foundation. “We are inspired by the strength and mission of the Race for Change initiative following our first local event and look forward to empowering the current generation and future generations of Black leaders and athletes in our industry.”
Celebrating the partnerships with the W.L. Hutcherson YMCA as well as with the local Tulsa Boys & Girls Club, representatives from the respective organizations were presented donations in the amount $10,000 USD, free swim lessons and safety curriculum for children attending the local elementary school near the Greenwood District. Additionally, bicycles, helmets as well as bike safety curriculum were donated to Boys & Girls Club of Metro Tulsa for children within the inner-city Tulsa community.
Speakers during the event included Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum, representatives from The IRONMAN Group, the IRONMAN Foundation, Black Moon Collective, the local YMCA and Tulsa Boys & Girls Club and professional triathlete and coach Matt Russell.
The groups also participated in efforts to recognize the centennial anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre which took place between May 31 and June 1 in 1921. To preserve and inspire achievements while restoring community culture lost, a mural was commissioned through the Race for Change initiative with the theme of “Anything Is Possible!®”. The painting of the mural was created by sisters Elizabeth and Christina Henley along with fellow artist, Melody Allen. All are from Tulsa’s Black Moon Collective. The Collective, composed of local black artists, utilized a wall inside the W.L. Hutcherson branch of the YMCA as their canvas.
In addition, the first one-hundred-yards of the 2021 Certified Piedmontese IRONMAN North American Championship Tulsa run course will adorn inspirational messages that acknowledged the past and pointed to a brighter future together. The stretch of the run course goes through the historic area of Black Wall Street, the heart of where the Tulsa Race Massacre took place in 1921.