McDonald's(R) Canada supports family with unique Olympic program

    McDonald's(R) 2010 Hopefuls program celebrates importance of family and
    community on the journey to the pinnacle of sport

    VANCOUVER, March 19 /CNW/ - McDonald's Canada today announced it will
support the aspirations of 26 athletes from coast-to-coast to compete at the
Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. This unique program also
recognizes the efforts of parents, as their children strive for the
opportunity to represent Canada.
    The McDonald's(R) 2010 Hopefuls program, an initiative that took root in
Quebec two years ago, will provide a grant to 26 athletes from across the
country - competing in 13 different disciplines - over the next three years. A
portion of the funding will also be allocated to the athlete's parents. This
contribution, totaling $260,000 or $10,000 per family, will help offset some
of the costs involved in areas such as training, coaching and traveling. In
addition, funding from up-coming Olympic-related promotional activities will
supplement this base amount.
    "At McDonald's, we know that every Olympic dream has a starting line,"
said Laurie Laykish, Senior Vice-President, McDonald's Canada. "The starting
line for many young athletes is the encouragement, love and support of their
family. We feel it's important to support athletes and recognize parents for
their efforts and their commitment to helping their child achieve their
    "I feel extremely privileged to be part of the McDonald's(R) 2010
Hopefuls program, not only for what it means in terms of helping me reach the
pinnacle of my sporting career, but also because it pays tribute to the people
who have been so instrumental in my development as a person and as an athlete
- my family," said long track speed-skater Denny Morrison, a native of Fort
St. John, BC, who can't wait for the chance to compete in front of the home
crowd in 2010.
    Those strong family ties certainly struck a chord with fellow speedskater
Cindy Klassen, the most decorated Olympic athlete in Canadian history who,
alongside Olympic silver medalist and three-time diving world champion
Alexandre Despatie, will serve as ambassadors for the program.
    "I think it's fantastic that McDonald's Canada has chosen to recognize
the importance of parents as role models," said Klassen, whose mom Helga was
in attendance at the event. "Parents are the first to believe in us and they
invest a lot of time, energy and resources to help us realize our dream."
    "When I look back at all the sacrifices my entire family made to help me
get to this point in my career, it's nice to see the spotlight shine on them,"
said Despatie, recounting how many times his parents, who are avid skiers, had
to forego hitting the slopes to sit poolside at diving meets instead.
    With less than two years to go before the opening of the 2010 Winter
Games, the eyes of an entire nation are turned to the men and women who will
represent Canada in the hopes of bringing the home country to the top of the
medal standings.
    "You can truly feel the momentum building for our athletes and support
programs such as this one, which recognize that the road to the Olympic Games
is a shared journey in which people from every community in Canada become part
of their extended family, are a great source of pride and motivation," said
Neil Houston, a former world champion curler and VANOC representative who
competed at the Calgary 1988 Olympic Games.
    For the development of the McDonald's 2010 Hopefuls program, McDonald's
Canada worked with the various National Sport Centres which offered their
expertise in the selection of the athletes. For its part, the Canadian Olympic
Committee, along with Sports-Quebec, will act as the trustees of the funds
made available for the athletes.
    For the full list of athletes in the McDonald's 2010 Hopefuls program,
visit The site includes each athlete's profile, results,
competition schedule as well as personal links. Visitors can follow the
athletes and their career, and even send them e-mail messages directly.

    McDonald's and the Olympic Games

    McDonald's commitment to the Olympic Movement began in 1968, when the
company airlifted hamburgers to U.S. athletes in Grenoble, France. Since then,
McDonald's has served its menu of choice and variety to millions of athletes,
their families and their fans. This summer's Olympic Games in Beijing mark
McDonald's sixth Olympic Games as a TOP Global Sponsor and its seventh as the
Official Restaurant of the Olympic Games. McDonald's sponsorship will continue
through the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

    About McDonald's Canada

    McDonald's is the leading foodservice company in the world. McDonald's
Restaurants of Canada Limited and its Canadian franchisees own and operate
more than 1,400 restaurants and employ more than 77,000 Canadians coast to
coast. Approximately 65 per cent of McDonald's Canadian restaurants are
locally owned and operated by independent entrepreneurs. For more information
about McDonald's Canada, visit the company's web site at

    /NOTE TO PHOTO EDITORS: A photo accompanying this release is available on
    the CNW Photo Network and archived at
    Additional archived images are also available on the CNW Photo Archive
    website at Images are free to accredited
    members of the media/

For further information:

For further information: McDonald's Media Relations, 1-877-786-3342

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