Ritzenhein named Visa Humanitarian Athlete of the Year


Tom Surber
Media Information Manager
USA Track & Field

INDIANAPOLIS - Two-time Olympian Dathan Ritzenhein has been named Visa Humanitarian Athlete of the Year by USA Track & Field. Ritzenhein will be honored December 1 at the 2007 Jesse Owens Awards and Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony held in conjunction with USA Track & Field's 2007 Annual Meeting, November 28-December 2, in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Ritzenhein, 24, of Eugene, Oregon, earlier this year won the Healthy Kidney 10K in New York on May 19 in 28 minutes 8 seconds, breaking the Central Park course record of 28:10 set by Kenyan Paul Koech in 1997. Following the race Ritzenhein donated his winner's earnings of $7,500 to the race beneficiary, the National Kidney Foundation. "I made a pact with myself before the race that if I'm fortunate enough to pick up this course record the least I can do is give back the first place prize money seeing as how this is professional athletics, but it's a race for charity," said Ritzenhein.

Ritzenhein entered the race in New York with an understanding of kidney disease and how debilitating it can be. "My mom (Rae Marie Nessner) has had kidney surgery and kind of has a failing kidney and my grandpa (Marvin Adams) has as well, so that's close to home for me," he said. "It kind of helps to be able to give that back and my mom was very, very happy, as was my grandpa. It's a great cause and in the course of three years that race in New York has been built up into a pretty substantial event."

"We take great pride in Dathan and all the athletes and individuals involved with our sport who take the time and make the effort to give to the community," said USATF CEO Craig A. Masback. "Dathan's generosity is a wonderful example of how finding a creative way to donate the resources we have to support charitable organizations that assist individuals in need."

"As a long-standing partner of USA Track & Field, Visa is proud to recognize an athlete who excels both in his sport and in his community," saidMichael Lynch,head of global sponsorship marketing, Visa Inc. "We congratulate Dathan for his accomplishments this year and on his continued journey to the Beijing Olympic Games next summer. We hope the Visa Humanitarian of the Year Award inspires him toremain suchan incredible role model for our nation's youth."

Ritzenhein finished as the runner-up at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials - Men's Marathon in New York's Central Park on November 3, 2007, to earn a spot on the Team USA roster for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China. Ritzenhein will compete on his second Olympic Team after running in the 10,000m at the 2004 Olympic Games. He placed ninth in the 10,000m at the 2007 World Outdoor Championships in Osaka, Japan, and is widely recognized as one of America's finest long distance runners.

For a full bio of Dathan Ritzenhein, visit www.usatf.org

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