Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Bernard Lagat to receive Visa Humanitarian Award from USATF...

INDIANAPOLIS--Three-time Olympian and Washington State University graduate Bernard Lagat (left/file photo by Paul Merca) was named the 2010 Visa Humanitarian of the Year by USA Track & Field.

Lagat will be honored on Saturday, December 4 at the Jesse Owens Awards and Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, held at the Virginia Beach Convention Center in Virginia Beach, Va. The event is held in conjunction with USA Track & Field's 2010 Annual Meeting.

"I am incredibly honored and humbled to receive this award for doing what I feel is the right thing to do - to help support our future generations," said Lagat. "I try to put my emphasis on helping children, be it in Haiti, here in the States, or back home in Kenya, because I truly do think we need to be giving them the best opportunities they can have, so that they too can grow up to be successful in something they love."

Generosity is nothing new for Lagat. Through the Bernard Lagat Foundation, which he created in 2004, he has paid for Kenyan high school students' tuition fees. His foundation is also a regular supporter of Beat Cancer Boot Camp, a training program designed to help cancer survivors stay active during treatment and remission. He also uses his talent to encourage children to be physically active, by assisting in Olympic 400m hurdler LaTonya Sheffield's Sports Extravaganza clinics.

Lagat continued to display generosity during the 2010 Indoor season. Lagat was twice named the Team USA Athlete of the Meet presented by Visa. He first received this honor for his record-breaking eighth Wanamaker Mile victory at the Millrose Games in NYC. The following week he once again earned recognition for setting the American Indoor record over 3,000 meters at the Reebok Boston Indoor Games. Without hesitation, Lagat decided to donate the $5,000 prize monies to UNICEF to help in the aid effort in Haiti.

He was also part of the Americas Team at the 2010 Continental Cup that donated all of their extra uniforms to the Haiti Relief Fund. In competition, Lagat won the men's 3,000 and 5,000m at Poljud Stadium in Split, Croatia. On the first night, in a tactical 5,000m, Lagat kicked a 51-second final lap to win the race in 13:58.23. It was more of the same the second night, as Lagat surged over the final 80m to win the 3,000m in 7:54.75, making him the only individual double winner in Split.

Following the close of competition, nearly 20 boxes of undistributed uniform shirts, shorts, pants, jackets and sneakers were sent to Haiti, which is still struggling to recover from the earthquake that devastated the poverty-stricken island nation.

"As a long-standing partner of USA Track & Field, Visa is proud to recognize Bernard for dedicating himself to helping others," said Michael Lynch, Head of Global Sponsorship Management, Visa Inc. "Bernard continues to inspire both on and off the track, and we're proud to recognize him as the 2010 Visa Humanitarian of the Year."

"Thank you very much to Visa for choosing to celebrate the simple act of giving to others, and supporting our future generations. I hope this helps inspire others to support a cause they feel passionate about -- it doesn't have to be much, but every little bit counts," stated Lagat.

NOTE: USA Track & Field contributed to this report.

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