INDIANAPOLIS - 2008 Olympian Ryan Hall and his wife, 1,500m runner Sara Hall, who in 2009 started The STEPS Foundation, have been named Visa Humanitarian Athletes of the Year by USA Track & Field.
The Halls will be honored on Saturday, December 5 at the Jesse Owens Awards and Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Indianapolis, Ind. The event is held in conjunction with USA Track & Field's 2009 Annual Meeting.
In 2009, Ryan Hall finished third in the Boston Marathon, running 2:09:40. It was the first time an American male has finished on the podium since 1984. Hall then finished fourth overall in the ING NYC Marathon in 2:10:36 to take second in the USA Championship race. Also in New York this year, Sara Hall took third place in the Fifth Avenue Mile in a race that was so close that first through fourth place all finished in 4:23.
In September of this year, the Halls launched the Hall Steps Foundation, which will fund programs to create a better life for youth living in poverty in the United States and abroad. The foundation aims to use running's lessons to encourage people to take "small steps" toward the goal of tackling issues like clean water, sex trafficking, and leadership development. Domestically, the foundation plans to create mentoring programs for at-risk youth to train for a race with an adult runner.
Said Sara, "Ryan and I are very honored to receive this award, and wish we could be there to accept it in person! Both of us hope through our charitable work, including founding The Hall Steps Foundation, to leave a positive mark on our sport and inspire lives along the way! Our goal through The Hall Steps Foundation is to engage the running community is social justice efforts, and we are excited to see the response of the running community so far! We are very thankful to Visa and USATF for providing us with events and a platform on which to compete, and it is great to give back with all we've been blessed with. We will be using the funds from the award to go towards our social justice efforts through The Hall Steps Foundation. Thank you very much!"
The Halls announced their foundation in September in New York, where Sara ran the Continental Airlines Fifth Avenue Mile that weekend and Ryan the ING New York City Marathon on November 1. They donated their winnings from those races to the foundation. Their charitable venture is a function of Fun 4 Kidz, an organization providing opportunities for disadvantaged children.
The Hall Steps Foundation, in connection with the New York Road Runners, also funded a Young Runners program in each of the five boroughs in New York City, helping more than 200 children learn the value of running.
"Ours can by its very nature be a selfish sport, but we are blessed that many American track and field athletes give back to their communities," USATF CEO Doug Logan said, "Sarah and Ryan Hall are incredible examples of how a humble selflessness can make running a vehicle to help others. That charity is a prime motivator for both of them is an example we can all learn from, in running and in life. It is with great admiration that I congratulate Ryan and Sara on receiving this richly deserved award."
"As a long-standing partner of USA Track & Field, Visa is proud to present the Visa Humanitarian of the Year to Ryan and Sara," said Michael Lynch, Head of Global Sponsorship Management, Visa Inc. "They are amazing role models and continue to inspire in and out of competition. We're proud to recognize their work with this award."
For more information on the Hall Steps Foundation, visit www.thestepsfoundation.org.
About Visa: Visa is a global payments technology company that connects consumers, businesses, financial institutions and governments in more than 200 countries and territories to fast, secure and reliable digital currency. Underpinning digital currency is one of the world's most advanced processing networks-VisaNet-that is capable of handling more than 10,000 transactions a second, with fraud protection for consumers and guaranteed payment for merchants. Visa is not a bank, and does not issue cards, extend credit or set rates and fees for consumers. Visa's innovations, however, enable its financial institution customers to offer consumers more choices: Pay now with debit, ahead of time with prepaid or later with credit products. For more information, visit www.corporate.visa.com.
About USA Track & Field
USA Track & Field (USATF) is the National Governing Body for track and field, long-distance running and race walking in the United States. USATF encompasses the world's oldest organized sports, some of the most-watched events of Olympic broadcasts, the #1 high school and junior high school participatory sport and more than 30 million adult runners in the United States.
For more information on USATF, visit USATF.org.