Tommy Lodge, an Athletes for Equality organizer for HRC, says that the program began as a Washington D.C.-based fundraising effort but has expanded to other areas, including here in Atlanta.
“[The program] engages people in the LGBT sports community and allied sports communities,” Lodge says. “People can participate in one of two ways. They can join a team, like we’ve done for the Georgia marathon, Marine Corps Marathon and D.C. marathon. They commit to raising a certain amount of money for HRC. In exchange, we provide coaching support, team camaraderie and fundraising support.”
Another way athletes can join the program, and the HRC, is to organize a fundraiser through other sporting events by using support tools provided by HRC. Since Athletes for Equality only organizes three official events, Lodge says providing the opportunity to raise money to folks outside of the D.C. or Atlanta area helps spread HRC’s message of equality.
“We have an online fundraising platform at hrc.org/athletes,” Lodge says. “They’re welcome to go in and create their own fundraising page for any race we do. If we don’t have a formal team, they can raise funds on their own. We connect them to the local steering committee if there is one. There is a way to participate wherever you are.”
Anyone, experienced or not-so-experienced, can take part in the program, Lodge says. HRC offers training to anyone who registers and who promises to raise funds.
“The program is for people who have never run anything before and experienced athletes alike,” he says. “We provide all the support. They can join one of our teams, email athletes for questions and more information on the website.”
Though the final fundraising tally from the recent Publix Georgia Half-Marathon and 5K – held March 17 – has yet to be released, Lodge says that athletes generally commit to raising around $1,000 when they join an HRC team.
Some 25 athletes were a part of the recent HRC team at the Georgia race, Lodge says.
But fundraising efforts aren’t limited to marathons.
“This is a way to interact with HRC when there isn’t a local steering committee,” Lodge says. “We’ve had about 75 athletes over the last year or so in bike rides. Someone wants to climb a mountain for us. We’ve had someone run a marathon in Paris and in Namibia.”
Lodge says the program is expanding and more official HRC-sponsored events are on the horizon, though nothing has been finalized just yet. The next big event will be the Marine Corps Marathon in D.C. October.
“Next, we are looking at doing more races, perhaps around the country,” he says. “Maybe a mud run or something like that. For now, these three races and the choose-your-own are where we are. It’s exciting to see the program expand. There really is nothing to do but grow.”
ATLANTA LGBT SPRING SPORTS
It’s officially spring, though you might not believe it thanks to a recent cold snap, and several local LGBT sporting leagues are either about to launch, or have just launched, their spring seasons.
The Decatur Women’s Sports League’s softball season officially kicked off Friday, March 15. Games are played Friday evenings at Kelly Cofer Park in Tucker. The league benefits the Atlanta Health Initiative. www.decaturwomensports.com
The Hotlanta Softball League was forced to postpone the first week of its 2013 spring season due to rain, but the league returns to action April 7 at the West Metro Atlanta Softball Complex. This year, the league will benefit Lost-N-Found Youth. www.hotlantasoftball.org
Hotlanta Volleyball will host the 21st annual Hotlanta Classic Volleyball Tournament at the Tsunami Volleyball Club from April 19-21. The tournament is the cap to the 2013 spring season, which kicked off Feb. 12 and runs through April 16. www.hotlantavolleyball.org
The Atlanta Bucks Rugby Football Club (or Bucks, for short) kicked off its 2013 season on Jan. 26 against the Macon Love. Practices are held regularly during the season at Piedmont Park and non-experienced players are always welcome to the team’s 101 training sessions. www.atlantabucksrugby.org
The National Flag Football League of Atlanta kicks off its 2013 season March 30 at Boulevard Crossing Park after a short pre-season campaign. Playoffs begin June 1 with the season wrapping up June 15. www.nffla.com
The annual Dixie Bowling Invitational will be held Easter Weekend (March 28-31) at Brunswick Zone in Norcross. The annual tournament draws competitors from across the Southeast each year. www.dixiebowl.org
The Atlanta Team Tennis Association began its spring season March 17, but there are plenty of opportunities for open play at Hit Atlanta or the Glenlake Tennis Center for ATTA members throughout the year. www.atta.org.
Top photo: The Human Rights Campaign’s Athletes for Equality has organized supporters to participate in races in Atlanta and Washington, D.C. (courtesy HRC)