Two Olympic Medallists with great hearts: Jenn Heil launches fundraising
campaign for "Because I am a Girl" and Alex Bilodeau initiates donations to
Canadian Association of Paediatric Health Centres for Cerebral Palsy Research

VANCOUVER, Feb. 24 /CNW/ - Just a few days after winning her second Olympic medal, Jenn Heil is rolling up her sleeves and initiating a fundraising campaign for the Plan Canada program "Because I am a Girl". Heil has been an ambassador for Plan Canada since 2007.

Heil announced today that she will personally donate $25,000 to the campaign. Inspired by his teammate, Olympic champion Alex Bilodeau has decided to join the effort to make these the most giving Games by donating $25,000 to the Canadian Association of Paediatric Health Centres (CAPHC) in support of research into cerebral palsy.

"My experience with Plan Canada in Burkina Faso in 2008 deeply touched me," Heil said. It was then that I realized as Canadians how many opportunities we have. There, and in many parts of the world, many young women don't even have the chance to be educated. I know I can help girls have a chance to rise above the vicious cycle of poverty. This is why I want the spirit of these Olympic Games to transcend the playing field, and to help people less privileged. Doing so follows the example set by athletes such as Clara Hughes and Chandra Crawford as to how athletes can contribute to the greater good of society. Each athlete, in their own individual way, can make a difference."

"This project is ambitious for me, but if I look back at the support I have received throughout my career I am encouraged and excited to take on this cause, to be able to help girls rise above poverty.

Jenn, proud ambassador!

"We're extremely proud to have Jenn Heil as our 'Because I am Girl' ambassador," said Rosemary McCarney, Plan Canada President and CEO. "For the last three years, even in the midst of training and competitions, Jenn has taken time out to help us raise awareness, inspiration and funds for millions of girls in developing countries. She has brought her champion-style dedication to the cause of girls around the world and has been one of our most passionate and vocal supporters. Canadians have many reasons to be proud of Jenn Heil. She is an outstanding athlete, passionate philanthropist, and global citizen. She's a role model for girls everywhere."

Alex, advancing research in Cerebral Palsy

Alex decided to join his teammate launching a fundraising Campaign to CAPHC, in the area of research into cerebral palsy. "My brother Frederic is my hero!" Bilodeau said. "Growing up beside him has allowed me to develop into the athlete and the person that I am today. I owe him so much as I have been able to experience my Olympic dream. I want to do my part and it is my hope that this initial contribution will spur others to contribute to advancing research efforts into pediatric cerebral palsy.

Last Saturday, Alex donated to CAPHC the proceeds gathered from the sale on Ebay.ca of the Canada Post gold stamps commemorating the country's first Olympic gold medal on home soil.

Elaine Orrbine, President and CEO of CAPHC, said: "CAPHC is truly honoured and humbled to share this exciting news with all our member organizations and stakeholders. Alex Bilodeau's historic victory has been embraced throughout Canada. His loving relationship with his brother Frédéric, who suffers from cerebral palsy, and the images of a gold medallist hugging his big brother after his performance have touched the hearts of millions of people. Alex has often spoken of his brother as a daily source of inspiration which makes Alex a perfect role model and spokesperson for CAPHC."

Beyond sport...

"The COC has the responsibility to create the conditions for our athletes to excel on the field of play, but also to promote the Olympic values that allow athletes, and indeed every person, to excel at the game of life," said Chris Rudge, CEO of the Canadian Olympic Committee.

"We commend Jenn and Alex in their charitable efforts and encourage all our athletes to follow their example - in whichever manner they choose. Our athletes have the power to inspire our nation, and to fuel the next generation of athletes to achieve their dreams. We're behind them every step of the way."

SOURCE Canadian Olympic Committee

For further information: For further information: For more information on how to support "Because I am a girl": www.becauseiamagirl.ca; For information on how to support Canadian Association of Paediatric Health Centres (CAPHC) in support of research into cerebral palsy see www.caphc.org

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