Right to Play knows the importance of teaching children essential life skills that will help them overcome the effects of poverty, conflict and disease in order to create better futures and drive lasting social change in their communities and beyond. And they do it through playing sports and game. At the Right to Play’s 2015 Big Red Ball hosted by NBC’s Willie Geist, the event welcomed over 400 guests that included 30 Olympic and professional Athlete Ambassadors in which they raised over $1.1 million for Right to Play’s global programs.
This year’s theme, “Play, It’s Serious Business” was emphasized with the two guest speakers: 4-Time Olympic gold medalist and Right to Play Athlete Ambassador, Allyson Felix, and Right to Play African Policy Director, Dr. Dennis Bright. Personal stories were shared on how Right to Play has impacted children around the world.
Some of the Right to Play Athlete Ambassadors who participated included:
- Sasha DiGiulian World Champion, Rock Climbing
- Bonnie Blair 5-Time Olympic Gold Medalist, Speed Skating
- David Boudia Olympic Gold Medalist, Diving
- Derick Brassard New York Rangers
- Dave Cruikshank 4-time U.S. Olympian, Speed Skating
- Allyson Felix 4-Time Olympic Gold Medalist, Track & Field
- Rondae Hollis-Jefferson Brooklyn Nets
- Gwen Jorgensen World Champion, 2016 Olympian, Triathlon
- Johann Koss 4-Time Olympic Gold Medalist, Speed Skating
- Chris Kreider New York Rangers
- Erika Lawler Olympic Silver Medalist, Ice Hockey
- Patrick Lemieux Professional Cyclist
- Tatyana McFadden 3-Time Paralympic Gold Medalist, 3-Time Grand Slam Marathon Champion, Track & Field, Winner 2015 Marathon Wheelchair Division
- Tim Morehouse Olympic Silver Medalist, Fencing
- Cameron Myler 4-Time Olympian, Luge
- Chris Piccirilli New York Lizards
- Molly Schaus 2-Time Olympic Silver Medalist, Ice Hockey
- Erik Schlopy 3-Time Olympian, Skiing
- Alex & Maia Shibutani Olympians, Ice Dancing
- Sarah Groff True 2016 Olympian, Triathlon
While some of us may take play for granted, play is not a luxury for many children in the world. A simple romp in the backyard, playing some football, or climbing a boulder/rock wall – these things can have the potential to teach some important life skills and encourage behavior change. Norwegian speed skater and four-time Olympic gold medalist Johann Olav Koss founded Right to Play in 2000 after experiencing something that sparked the idea of the organization and it began with a boy in long sleeves. Read his story here.
The approach of Right to Play is based on the theory that children learn best when they are experiencing lessons through play. Each program is tailored to each locale’s context and need whether it’s health concerns, lack of education, a need for peace or all three.
“I’m beyond grateful for the support we received at the Big Red Ball and for the ongoing commitment from the many Athlete Ambassadors, donors and partners to help raise awareness and funds for Right to Play’s global programs,” said Right to Play founder, Johann Olav Koss. “By teaching children critical life skills through sport and play, Right to Play is transforming the lives of more than one million children around the world every week. However, there is still much more to be done.”
For more information on Right to Play, please visit www.righttoplay.com.