The AIDS Foundation of Chicago received a major, worldwide endorsement Friday, as did AFC's endurance training program: Team To End AIDS, known as T2.
T2 has been named the "Official Charitable Training Program" for the annual Chicago Triathlon, the world's largest triathlon event, which is owned and produced by Life Time Fitness. Plus, AFC was named the "Official Charity" of the event, which means that the agency will be the only charity granted a page on the event website, associated with online event registration, and included in event e-newsletters and press releases.
About 8,500 participated in the 2010 Chicago Triathlon. This year's event will be held August 28.
"I am absolutely thrilled about this achievement for T2 and for AFC," said Mike Dilbeck, of Chicago, who is the T2 National Director. "It really is an honor to be selected for this coming off of our first year for T2. This is an honor for T2, for AFC and for the HIV/AIDS community.
"I look at this like an award from our peersfrom the triathlon and endurance-sports communityletting us know that they appreciate and respect what we have built and done with T2 this past year."
In just one year, that is.
AFC launched T2 in 2010, training locals for a half marathon, full marathon, or triathlon.
This summer, T2 is expanding its offering of endurance-sports with a bicycling event, the Wrigley Field Road Tour on August 27.
"When we asked the [ Chicago ] Triathlon staff [ why T2 was chosen, ] they said they chose us based on the enthusiasm of our staff and what we can bring to the Chicago Triathlon as a highly-respected and successful training program in the Chicagoland area," Dilbeck said.
AFC and T2 have been signed for a two-year deal with the Chicago Triathlon.
"Our selection of T2 provides us with an opportunity to raise funds and drive awareness for the AIDS Foundation of Chicago, while at the same time fulfilling Life Time's mission to grow the sport of triathlon," said Chicago Triathlon race director, Nick Lynch. "We're honored to be among the six [ T2 ] events in 2011 ready to make a difference."
T2 also will train participants for the Steelhead 70.3 Triathlon, August 14, 2011, the Chicago Half Marathon ( Sept. 11 ) , the Bank of America Chicago Marathon ( Oct. 9 ) , and the Honolulu Marathon ( Dec. 11 ) .
Dilbeck said the selection of T2 is huge, absolutely huge, "especially when you consider [ all of the other ] amazing, national endurance training programs around the country that the Chicago Triathlon had to choose from.
"While this is a two-year designation, we are committed that it be a long-term relationship with the Chicago Triathlon, allowing the triathlon and T2 to make an even bigger difference for those living with HIV/AIDS."
T2 was launched in 2010 by AFC to raise money for the fight against HIV/AIDS by training ordinary people to complete extraordinary events: a marathon, half marathon, triathlon or 100-mile bike ride. Register has begun for 2011 events. Go to: www.T2EA.com
"T2 has experienced an amazing inaugural year, trained hundreds of people to complete an endurance event, raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for HIV/AIDS, and finished year one with this feather in our cap as the 'Official Charitable Training Program' of the world's largest triathlon," Dilbeck said. "It will be fun and challenging to create an even more successful and amazing year in 2011."
Added incoming AFC president/CEO David Ernesto Munar: "The Chicago Triathlon has given T2 its highest seal of approval for our outstanding training program and charitable work in the community. I could not be more proud. People who train with T2 and complete the Chicago Tri or another endurance event are among our best ambassadors promoting the excellent coaching and our outstanding work fighting HIV/AIDS. With official recognition from the Chicago Triathlon, thousands of other triathlon enthusiasts will learn about us and receive a power endorsement from one of the largest growing events in the sport."
Munar, 41, ran the Chicago Marathon in 2010, but this year will mark his first tri, the Chicago Triathlon, naturally.
"The exposure of this recognition is huge," Munar said. "For anyone considering a training program, the Chicago Triathlon's recognition is an important seal of approval and endorsement of the kind of excellent experience they can expect to receive."
T2 partners with TriMonster to aide in training for triathletes.
"We proved [ last year ] that we are serious about involving new people in triathlons and the worthy cause of fighting HIV/AIDS," Munar said.