FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Ted Rybka
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NEW YORK (Sept. 7, 2016) – Sports legends Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Greg Louganis and Heather O’Reilly, along with the Boston Celtics organization, will be honored at the Third Annual Athlete Ally Action Awards. Athlete Ally is a nonprofit organization focused on educating and activating athletes to champion LGBT equality. The awards ceremony will take place September 27 at Good Units located in the Hudson Hotel.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is the National Basketball Association’s all-time leading scorer and six-time winner of the NBA’s Most Valuable Player Award. He was named an NBA All-Star in 19 out of his 20 playing seasons and won six championships as a player; two as an assistant coach. Today, Abdul-Jabbar is a vocal activist and speaks out against discrimination in all forms, including Indiana’s proposed harmful and discriminatory anti-LGBT legislative effort SB 101 that was ultimately reversed by the Governor after mounting criticism. His columns in Time and the New York Times have supported athlete activism, racial justice and LGBT and gender equality.
Greg Louganis is the only male diver in Olympics history to win the 3M and 10M platform diving events in consecutive Olympic Games (1984 and 1988). In addition to his five Olympic medals and five World Championship titles, Louganis won 47 national titles – the most in U.S. diving history. Louganis has been a leading voice in diversity and inclusion in sport, working on the global Principle 6 campaign — which led to the International Olympic Committee’s adoption of a sexual orientation non-discrimination clause in the Olympic Charter. Louganis was also instrumental in bringing attention to the lack of women leaders in the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA). Louganis is a member of Athlete Ally’s advisory board.
“Coming off an Olympic Games that saw the most openly gay athletes in history, we couldn’t be more proud to honor four-time Olympic gold medalist Greg Louganis,” said Brian Ellner, founding board member of Athlete Ally and General Manager at Edelman. “Greg has been an unrelenting champion for LGBT equality, and it is especially fitting to honor him during the year of his long-overdue Wheaties box recognition.”
Heather O’Reilly is one of the most successful soccer players in U.S. Women’s National Team history. The three-time Olympic gold-medal-winning soccer player is also notable for scoring the fastest goal in Olympic women’s soccer history, 41 seconds into a match against New Zealand in the 2008 Olympic Games. She also holds three World Cup medals (2007 – Bronze, 2011 – Silver, 2015 – Gold) and has represented the United States in 230 international matches. O’Reilly has used her voice as an Athlete Ally Professional Ambassador to speak out on issues of LGBT and gender equality. As a University of North Carolina Tar Heel and resident of North Carolina, she spoke out against that state’s anti-LGBT law, HB2. Additionally, she was instrumental in advocating her FC Kansas City teammates to produce a video for Athlete Ally’s EveryFan campaign.
The Boston Celtics organization will be honored for its role in helping the Massachusetts Public Accommodations Bill become law. This newly-passed law ensures that transgender citizens have access to bathrooms and locker rooms that correspond to their gender identity.
“Our honorees are pioneers in helping create LGBT-inclusive environments and eliminating anti-LGBT prejudice on and off the playing field,” said Athlete Ally Founder and Executive Director Hudson Taylor. “By standing up and speaking out on issues of diversity and inclusion, they are working to create safe spaces so that everyone has the opportunity to participate in athletics.”
The third Annual Athlete Ally Action Awards will take place September 27 at the Hudson Hotel in New York City. Event sponsors include Ken Mehlman, NBA/WNBA, MillerCoors, RBC Capital Markets, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Citi, Haddad Brands, HBO, KPMG, Target, Steve, Laurie, and Jonathan Tisch, Tusk Ventures, Steve Wozencraft and John Evans, and others. Sponsorship list in formation (as of September 7). For a full sponsorship listing, visit www.actionawards.org.
About Athlete Ally
Athlete Ally is a nonprofit organization that educates and empowers the athletic community to take a stand against homophobia and transphobia in sports. Athlete Ally works with MLB, the NBA, WNBA, and NBPA on player development and LGBT inclusion. It also co-wrote the NCAA’s LGBT policies and resource guides and partners with over 150 professional athletes and college campuses to promote LGBT equality and respect. The organization was instrumental in the NCAA’s recent unveiling of a questionnaire that requires current and prospective host cities of its championship competitions to outline how they will protect participants and spectators from discrimination.