There’s been plenty written of late about which Winter Olympians make the most money. Shaun White is at the top the list, earning $7.5 millions from his sponsors last year. But two of White’s female U.S. halfpipe team counterparts, Hannah Teter and Kelly Clark, are doing more than most with their millions and medals. Clark won gold in the 2002 halfpipe event, and Teter took home the same during the 2006 Winter Games. Both are competing for gold in Vancouver.
Teter started Hannah’s Gold following her Torino Olympic victory, and she donates all her contest winning to the cause. The non-profit sells maple syrup, and organic cotton/hemp sweatbands for people living in Kirindon, Kenya. “We have drilled many wells there for drinking water and hygiene, built schools and shelters, and brought other needed supplies,” said Teter. “The goal of our work there is to provide a higher quality of life to 70,000 people.”
And Teter hasn’t stopped there. “We have also recently contributed aid and supplies to Haiti after the earthquake, and are getting involved in several environmental protection initiatives. My goal is to do all the good I can, wherever I can, as long as I have breath in me. I want to help improve the quality of life for all: humans, animals, and environment. Whether we recognize it or not, we live on a tiny interconnected planet and we’re all in it together. It’s time we acknowledged that and start really working for the good of all. It’s the best way to ensure our own good.”
Kelly Cark feels lucky for all the opportunities she’s had, and said she launched the Kelly Clark Foundation to give the next generation of snowboarders the opportunity to attend mountain schools. “I grew up being told that I could be or do anything I wanted to in this world, and I believed it,” said Clark. “I also had the support of people around me to help me pursue my dreams. I know that is not always the case for everyone. Some kids don’t ever have the chance to be great. I wanted to give them an opportunity to do just that. I know financially snowboarding is not a cheap sport, and I thought that could be a need and a great place to start helping. So I started the Kelly Clark Foundation to do just that. I hope to give my first scholarships next school season.”
It would be easy for both of these highly successful women to rest on their laurels, and build their personal empires. But both Clark and Teter said they have a higher level of responsibility as professional athletes.
“As a professional athlete, I am in a place of influence, so there is no better time to raise awareness to things I am passionate about,” said Clark. “Pursuing your dreams is something I am passionate about and I want to see people have the same opportunities that I had growing up.”
Teter said just sitting back and basking in the glory of her success “Might be fun for like 5 minutes.”
“Then what?” Teter asked. “Human beings are creative creatures, we need to evolve and contribute. Meaning is as critical to our existence as food is. And we all need to serve something bigger than ourselves–that’s a key to happiness. There is so much need in the world and we all have so much capacity when we really care. My suggestion for everyone is to find something you really care about–something that pulls on your heart.–and turn your care into action. Don’t look away and go back to sleep. Let your deepest values be what guides your life. You’ll have a much more beautiful trip that way.”
Hannah Teter (top) and Kelly Clark bring a lot more than talent to the table. Photos: Pensinger via Getty Images.