2014-2015 Season online fundraiser is now LIVE!

For those still keeping up with me (despite my lack of updates throughout the summer…sorry, that will change soon!) I am holding a fundraiser for two months to help fund my upcoming skeleton season!

The website can be found right here, and any and all help, monetary or otherwise, is greatly appreciated!

Cheers!

Donate and Support Two Causes at Once!

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As you saw a few weeks ago, I became a Pro Ambassador with Athlete Ally in order to do my part in eliminating homophobia in sports. Since then, I haven’t been able to do much besides help spread their word via Twitter and Facebook until today.

In order to give back, I will donate 10% of funds I raise in the next two weeks directly to Athlete Ally. For that, I need your help! I hope I can contribute at least $100 to the cause, and hopefully more!

Obviously, a big part of this is to help fund my upcoming skeleton season, which I’m afraid to say is looking like it’s slipping farther and farther away simply because of lack of funding. Despite working 30-40 hours a week on top of training, I just don’t have the finances to support myself. And unfortunately, this is why many sliders leave the sport: because they just can’t afford it. I hope this doesn’t happen to me, and I will need your help!

While these donations will help to get me through my skeleton season, I am so thrilled to do what I can for Athlete Ally. I’ve been so influenced by many athletes, some of whom are gay, that I can’t even imagine the fact that many suffered and continue to suffer through discrimination on the field.

Please spread the word, and do what you can to help me help support equality in sports!

Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

As always, please visit my website at www.dashofsalter.com for updated information!

Athlete Ally

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I am so thrilled and honored to announce that I am officially part of Athlete Ally, a growing organization that is committed to bringing about equality in sports through sports.

As is the case in the rest of the world, homophobia is widespread in sports, and the folks at Athlete Ally have decided to make that end. It is a tax-exempt, nonprofit organization founded by wrestler Hudson Taylor, who witnessed the homophobic slurs and decided to take a stand. Together with a growing number of collegiate and professional Ambassadors, Athlete Ally hopes to educate and bring about a message of respect and equality in sports worldwide.

This came to my awareness via Twitter (social media at its best!) after seeing the announcement of 18 National Women’s Soccer League players who were named as Athlete Ally Ambassadors a few weeks ago. As you’re no doubt aware (unless you’ve been living under a rock and/or don’t know be but at all, I’m kind of a big fan of the US women’s soccer team, and women’s soccer in general. So to see these women, some of whom are gay, some of whom are straight, step up and become more vocal in this cause made me want to do the same.

I expressed interest to Athlete Ally and was immediate embraced. Brian Healey, the Pro Ambassador coordinator and social media guru, was incredibly welcoming and enthusiastic, which just made my own passion for this all the more!

With a little encouragement by my oldest brother David, who is gay (and wonderful, by the way), I wrote a truthful response to a few questions and BAM.

Here I am, an Athlete Ally Pro Ambassador.

Being a development-level athlete training hard to break onto the National Team, I often don’t get an opportunity to represent my ideals and my sport at the same time, or if I do, I’ve been too afraid to. Athlete Ally is giving me a great cause with which to start having more confidence in myself. I’m realizing that it doesn’t matter the level of athlete when a chance like this comes along. When it comes to equality, everyone deserves a chance to be treated like everyone else, and if I have the platform to support that, then I’m going to take full advantage.

There are things in the blog post that I’ve never told more than a few people, and it was certainly a struggle to make it known to perhaps thousands or tens of thousands of people. But a friend reminded me of something: there was probably someone out in the world who was struggling with the same things I am. Perhaps my speaking out about it would empower them to do the same, or at least help them accept things better.

I’m now in shockingly new territory: I’ve never been a part of something that reaches so many people. I’ve never been in a true media spotlight. And while this might not reach as many people like it would if I had done an interview with NBC or a major media network, my joining Athlete Ally puts me smack in the middle of one of the biggest campaigns in the century.  I am aware that I’m going to get abuse from some about what I said in the blog post. Indeed, I’ve already seen a scoff of a comment (I know, I know…I’m not supposed to read the comments section. It just makes one mad) about my choice of words, but you know what? I’m proud of myself for saying it. And I know that I’ll be supported by my new team with Athlete Ally.

I’m so honored to be standing up against homophobia next to incredible athletes like Megan Rapinoe, who came out just prior to the 2012 London Olympics, Heather O’Reilly (who may just be the most hilarious pride Ally ever), Andy Roddick, Yogi Berra and so many other athletes. It’s humbling and invigorating at the same time.

It’s a particularly important time to be joining Athlete Ally with the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi fast approaching.  Russia’s anti-gay propaganda laws have been the subject of much controversy leading up to the Games, and as such, athletes and the IOC will have a tremendous platform to try and make a change. While I may or may not be at the Games , it is crucial for the message of equality to continue to be spread.  It might not be the easiest nor safest route, but I believe it is the right thing to do.

Development athlete, Olympic athlete, youth athlete, gay, straight, bisexual. It doesn’t matter, really. Athlete Ally wants anyone and everyone to take a stand. As Kenneth Faried is quoted on Athlete Ally’s homepage: “Sports knows no sexual orientation.”

The “O-Word”

In case you all missed it, or weren’t paying attention, I was recently honored with the opportunity to kick off the US Bobsled and Skeleton Federation’s athlete blog with a post of my own. I considered this a great compliment to my writing, which I almost thought no one was paying attention to!

Of course, immediately after agreeing to do it, I was struck with terror and my brain went crazy. This thing was going to be on the front page of the USBSF website. People were going to read it! Lots of people! Maybe even important people! I must write something profound! No! I must be extremely witty! But if I try too hard, I’ll come off like I’m an idiot because I’m trying too hard!

What ultimately came out on paper was the explanation of a phrase that is used a lot in the “world” in which I live. The “O-Word”, or “Olympic”. For instance, when a fellow server might notice a grumpy-looking table at Dancing Bears, they’d tell me, “Just mention The “O-Word” and they’ll cheer right up!”

I’ve found this to be 100% foolproof, even in an Olympic-history-heavy town like Lake Placid. It’s astonishing how The O-Word actually demonstrates the ideal of the Games: world harmony. EVERYONE is excited to talk about the Olympics. At least, I’ve never met anyone who hasn’t been excited about it. EVERYONE tells about their favorite memory, or earliest memory, or even their most painful memory in regards to the Games. Never have I mentioned the Olympics to someone only to get a confused, “Sorry? What’s that?” back (Thank goodness. I might have a heart attack the day that happens).

And so, I sat down at my iPad and keyboard and began to write. Amazingly, I didn’t do what I normally do, which is write one paragraph, stop, pace around for a bit to figure out if it was actually a good idea to start, and then sit again and write the next paragraph. I stayed at it for a good three hours, letting my mind take my pen (keyboard? fingers?) wherever it would go. There was definite “bird walking” and tangents, random anecdotes and odd facts. I even started writing about a completely new topic about 3/4 in.

Lucky for all of us, not all of it made the final draft. There was a paragraph detailing my admiration for American Sweetheart and US Swimming phenom Missy Franklin’s humility and normalcy. There was disgust over how Marion Jones let me down as a young girl with her decisions regarding steroids. There was even a mention of demon ants taking over the world. Oh, wait…

I was pleasantly surprised how easily my thoughts flowed when I wrote the article. Then again, I tend to feel much more creative when I’m writing about my passions: the Olympics, soccer, theater, film to name a few.

I took a night to sleep on the piece, then came back and made some major changes to the layout before deeming it worthy. I have never sent in an important piece of writing without having it proofread by my editors (aka my Dad the infamous Red Pen Wielder, or my eldest brother David, no slouch in writing himself) so I surprised myself when I checked my own work and sent it in without anyone else reading it.

I am very happy with how it came out. I’m so happy that it seems to have been received with positive reviews, and I’m so humbled by the amount of praise I received from my teammates, family and friends. I truly enjoyed writing it (shout out to @mcguire_bobsled for the help deciphering huge numbers) and I love that you love it!

Click here to read The “O-Word” in all its original glory on the USBSF home page!

Oh! And I guess you’ve noticed that I actually have a WEBSITE now! That’s thanks to my super awesome roommate and training partner Haley Sive. She’s a genius. It looks incredible and it’s not even finished! I bow before her. I am not worthy. I still don’t think I know what a widget is…

Cheers, you lovely people you!

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