LAKE PLACID - It's been almost eight years since Sandra Izzo competed in the Lake Placid Ironman triathlon. Still, this Lake Placid resident had a special reason to sign up for this year's event.
This time, Izzo won't be competing for herself. She'll also be raising funds for a cause close to her heart through the Janus Charity Challenge.
The program, sponsored by the Janus investment management firm, allows athletes to choose a nonprofit to benefit from donations. Janus also makes additional contributions to the beneficiaries of the top fundraisers for each of the full-distance U.S. Ironman races.
"Through their generosity and commitment, Janus Charity Challenge athletes are making the most of a great fundraising opportunity," said Casey Cortese, assistant vice president of Janus Corporate Sponsorships. "These triathletes are taking their race to a higher level by providing much-needed support for nonprofit organizations throughout the country."
For her charity, Izzo chose Rachel's Vineyard, an after-abortion healing program.
The organization offers healing retreats to anyone struggling with the emotional and spiritual pain of abortion. Operating nationally since 1994, the program has helped more than 100,000 people in its small group settings.
Izzo has been a volunteer for Rachel's Vineyard since 2006 when the program was first offered at Camp Guggenheim near Saranac Lake. The Catholic Diocese of Ogdensburg, which includes much of the North Country, holds Rachel's Vineyard retreats there twice annually.
Izzo said there is a continually growing need for the help Rachel's Vineyard can offer.
"Abortion is a silent wound which women carry secretly, sometimes for years, and this pain can affect every aspect of their life," said Izzo, noting how she's seen first-hand the pain people bear. "Those hurting need to know they are not alone and that confidential help is available."
Izzo said the idea of raising money for Rachel's Vineyard was her main motivation for competing in the Ironman this year.