Eddie Goldman is the host and producer of the No Holds Barred international podcast, the publisher of the No Holds Barred blog, and a senior contributing editor at the ADCC News.

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Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Gold Medalist Speedskater Joey Cheek Donates $25K Winnings to Right to Play 

Amidst the usual sordid tales of top athletes getting caught as dope cheats, felons, and fiends of all types, at least one story has emerged from the 2006 Winter Olympics which should warm even the coldest hearts.

American speedskater Joey Cheek, who won the gold medal in the men’s 500-meter speedskating event Monday, has announced that he is donating his entire $25,000 gold medal bonus which he received from the U.S. Olympic Committee to the humanitarian organization Right to Play.

A story on this appeared in The New York Times.

Here also is the U.S. Olympic Committee’s press release:

Cheek to donate Operation Gold funds to charity
by Craig Bohnert - U.S. Olympic Committee

Joey Cheek (Greensboro, N.C.), gold medalist in the men’s 500m long track speedskating event at the Oval Lingotto on Monday evening, announced during his post-race press conference that he will donate the $25,000 he will receive from the U.S. Olympic Committee’s Operation Gold program to charity.

Cheek indicated that he would donate the sum to Right to Play, Inc., a charity founded by Olympic gold medal speedskater Johann Olaf Koss of Norway.

Quotes from the press conference:

“I know you guys all want to do sweet stories about Hallmark and chocolates and butterflies and all that, but I have a pretty unique experience and a pretty unique opportunity here. So I'm going to take advantage of it while I can.

“I have been blessed by competing in the Olympics in speedskating. I am grateful that my family has supported me through all of this, my coaches, my friends and my country has supported me wholeheartedly. The United States Olympic Committee has been amazing. Without their support, none of the athletes who train and compete would be able to train and compete at this level. And so, I've always felt that if I ever did something big like this I wanted to be prepared to give something back. So ... I'm going to be donating the entire (Operation Gold) sum the USOC gives to me, which is think is around $25,000, I'm not sure, to the organization that Johann Olaf Koss either started or gave to in 1994. And I'm going to be asking all of the Olympic sponsors that give hundreds of millions of dollars if they will also maybe match my donation to a specific project.

“For me, the Olympics have been the greatest blessing. If I retired yesterday I would have gotten everything in the world from speedskating and from competing in the Olympics. So for me to walk away today with a gold medal is amazing. And the best way to say thanks that I can think of is to help somebody else, so I'm going to be donating my money, I'm going to try and talk to the Olympic sponsors, and if there's anyone in particular in the U.S. or Europe who's going to be reading these articles, if you'd like to check out Right To Play, you can check out their web site, it's righttoplay.com.”

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