Ambassador Raises Over $10K to Support USAT Foundation's Mission
by USA Triathlon Foundation
Attending the USA Triathlon Foundation’s Gala and Hall of Fame Induction led one triathlete to ignite her passion for supporting youth triathletes, adaptive athletes and Olympic/Paralympic hopefuls.
Kimee Armour attended the event before racing the Toyota Age Group National Championships in Cleveland. She found herself seated next to John Cassimatis, past president of the Foundation’s Board of Trustees.
As they chatted about their love of triathlon, John told Kimee about the Foundation’s mission: encouraging youth triathletes, inspiring adaptive athletes and inspiring Olympic/Paralympic hopefuls. All three are important to her, especially adaptive and Paralympic triathletes.
As a Navy combat nurse who served in the Gulf War, Kimee says she “prides myself in honoring and helping anyone who has been injured, lost a limb and wants to become more active.”
She ended up taking home a piece of history from the gala’s silent auction: memorabilia from the women’s triathlon podium sweep at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. The experience led her to apply for the Foundation’s ambassador team.
Her acceptance to the 2020 team led to happy tears. “My heart was so full of joy,” Kimee said. “I was excited to belong to a family of people with a main goal of helping others accomplish what was once thought as the impossible. Dreams are possible.”
As an ambassador, Kimee committed to raising at least $1,000 to support the Foundation’s mission, completing service projects and being active in her local triathlon community.
She set a lofty goal—raising at least $10,000. Although COVID-19 temporarily delayed that goal, Kimee wasn’t going to give up. In 2021, she raised $10,111 through creative channels: raffles, online garage sales, teaching CPR classes and even selling her custom-painted 2006 Kawasaki Vulcan motorcycle—hot pink with an American flag.
“I decided to change the way I asked for donations,” she explained. “Many were still out of work, and I couldn’t openly ask for donations, so I started with raffles for some really cool items.”
Kimee held raffles every 90 days, giving away items she had bought or received as donations. But what really helped her reach her goal was her online garage sale.
“I had quite a bit of gear I knew was not going to be used any time soon, so I put things up for sale,” she said. If someone wanted something but was struggling due to COVID-19, Kimee asked them to donate the shipping fee to the Foundation. Then she sent the item at no cost, “because that’s what family does,” she said.
People might think they need to give a big amount, but Kimee emphasized the importance of lots of little donations adding up. “I picked up change off the ground all year, and that change added up,” she added.
Kimee met her goal within 10 months, although she believes she could have hit it sooner had it not been for the pandemic. She learned she hit $10,000 while working as a traveling nurse on COVID-19 front lines. The news came after finishing a 16-hour shift and having to return in 8 hours.
“I got a little emotional,” she said of realizing she’d hit her goal.
The USA Triathlon Foundation is grateful to have ambassadors like Kimee who are “full of passion for our sport,” said Executive Director Dave Deschenes.
“Our ambassador team has created an amazing community of likeminded athletes and supporters of the Foundation,” Dave said. “Kimee has really set the bar high with her involvement and fundraising efforts, which will help the Foundation to continue to make an impact.”
As a reward for her work, Kimee will receive VIP spectator passes to the Ironman World Championships in Kona this fall.
But the most rewarding aspect of being an ambassador has been the people she’s met. Among the most memorable is Sister Madonna Buder. The 91-year-old legendary religious sister is known as the Iron Nun, as she’s the oldest woman to complete an IRONMAN triathlon. The two met through Foundation events and have become good friends.
Kimee Armour helps 91-year-old Sister Madonna Buder out of the water during a triathlon. She and the Iron Nun met through the USA Triathlon Foundation and have become good friends.
Kimee’s also had the opportunity to race the Toyota Legacy Triathlon Pro-Am Relay, which pairs athletes with an Olympian or Paralympian. And see kids succeed in the sport, whether they were learning how to set up transition in Long Beach or racing their first triathlon in Cleveland.
“I have met some of the most amazing people,” she said. “Each time I am away for an event and see another ambassador wearing their kit, we generally strike up a conversation. I have gained an entire family for years to come.”
This year, her goal is to bring others to the Foundation and teach as many people as possible about the organization’s mission.
“My life has been full of blessings since that day I met John Cassimatis,” she said. “John, thank you for telling me all about the Foundation and inviting me in.”
The USA Triathlon Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and the charitable arm of USA Triathlon. With its mission to transform lives through sport by providing opportunities to swim, bike and run, the Foundation serves to generate a greater impact on the multisport community through charitable giveback and grants that advance the Foundation’s three pillars: (1) Encourage youth participation; (2) Inspire adaptive athletes; and (3) Ignite Olympic/Paralympic dreams. Since the Foundation was established in 2014, it has provided millions of dollars in grants to organizations and individuals in pursuit of its mission and pillars to create a healthier United States through triathlon.