Jennifer Leeds (Giant Steps Foundation) and Cathy Wong (Champion Mobile Notary) very graciously sponsored the Women’s Cycling Association (WCA) and sent me, professional cyclist and WCA secretary, Lauren Rauck Komanski, as a representative to the event on behalf of the newly created WCA.
The evening started with a cocktail hour. There was a silent auction with incredible items, such as an autographed Abby Wambach soccer jersey and an autographed basketball by WNBA athletes. Attendees lined the red carpet pre-event to see Billie Jean King and other notable women and men attending that evening.
Standing next to the red carpet, I was introduced to Kathryn Olson, the CEO of the WSF, and a group of 10 children, that rushed over when they heard “professional athlete”, and subsequently asked for an autograph.
I was surprised when I realized they were talking to me, but it was hard not to smile. WSF had given the young girls a small notebook filled with blank white sheets to collect autographs throughout the evening.
The WSF demonstrated the value they place in supporting young girls as they invited numerous girls under the age of 15. The evening provided these young girls an opportunity to meet amazing role models that will continue to influence their lives for years to come.
The evening continued with a sit down dinner as speeches and awards were presented. A special tribute was given to Diana Nyad, the long distance swimmer who swam from Cuba to Key West (110.86 miles) at the age of 64.
In her speech, she remarked, “The journey is nice, but the destination is pretty great too,” and we were also reminded of her #NeverGiveUp motto.
Another memorable presentation was from WSF President Angela Ruggiero, who took the stage with 2 young girls. She spoke about the importance of the program GoGirlGo!, and Amanda Rivera told us how this program has made such a positive impact in her life.
Also on stage was the sensational 10-year-old girl football star, Sam Gordon, who reminded us to, “Just run through the holes in the defense; they’re easy to find.”
The following awards were presented to recipients that night: Team Sportswoman of the Year—Candace Parker (basketball); Billie Jean King Contribution Award—WNBA; Wilma Rudolph Courage Award—Melissa Stockwell (para-athlete swimmer and triathlete); ANNIKA Inspiration Award—Vivian Hao; Individual Sportswoman of the Year—Missy Franklin (swimmer).
At the end of the evening, many people stayed around to socialize and network. I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to meet and discuss the WCA with Billie Jean King, Greg and Kathy LeMond, and many others.
Thank you to the WSF for an amazing evening; the WCA looks forward to working together in collaboration to support women athletes as we continue to strive for equality.