USATF Foundation – Doing Good Things for Kids

Alix Shutello| Runner's Illustrated |May 15, 2011

Sub 4:00 Mile Record Holder, Reggie McAfee’s, Cross-Country for Youth has flourished

By Alix J. Shutello

Reggie McAfee holds a lot more than a U.S. national record title as the first African American to break 4:00 minutes in the mile. He holds the future of youth sports in his hands. McAfee is one of many executive directors of athletic youth programs around the nation. His organization, Cross-Country for Youth (CCFY), is a Charlotte-based nonprofit that introduces middle schoolers to cross-country training and character-building concepts to develop the whole person.

McAfee launched the nonprofit in 2006 after leaving a 26-year career at Xerox, where he worked from 1980 to 2006, moving up the corporate ladder until he became the top Xerox salesman in the United States in 1999. When the company offered him early retirement, McAfee decided to give back so he went back to his roots as an athlete and launched CCFY later that year. The kids represent a broad demographic group, divided roughly evenly among whites, African Americans and Hispanics, including both at-risk kids and affluent kids.

“I thank God for providing me the opportunity and privilege to create a program that focuses on Cross-Country training and character development. What a winning combination,” he said.

McAfee attributes his success at Xerox to his perseverance as an athlete. During his career, many doubted his abilities, but he used his mental acuity, business acumen, and desire to achieve, to push him forward; skills developed from the process of setting goals, developing a plan, and executing on that plan—the very same process he used to become one of America’s most prolific track and field superstars with a national record to boot.

The USATF Gives Back

In the early stages, the CCFY operated on a slim annual budget of roughly $125,000 and with 60 to 70 volunteers. The organization made an impact using cross-country running as a tool to teach kids in elementary and middle school “to live healthy lives with character.

In 2007, the USA Track & Field Foundation presented a $1500 youth grant CCFY in support of its programs and in three short years, the program grew from 70 kids the first year to 205 in 2009. In the meanwhile, the USATF has given numerous grants to youth athletic programs around the nation.

About Reggie:

In high school, McAfee was Ohio state champion in cross-country two years straight and in the mile and half-mile. As a sophomore at Brevard College in North Carolina on a scholarship for cross-country and track, he was national junior college champion in cross-country and in the mile and two-mile.

But it was in 1973, after transferring to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, that he made history and became the first African-American to break the four-minute mile barrier in 3:57.8. He broke the 4:00 barrier seven times total in his career.

About the USATF Foundation

The USATF Foundation was founded in 2002 as a means to attract and guide funds to new and innovative track and field programs, with an emphasis on providing opportunities for youth athletes, emerging athletes, distance training centers and anti-doping education. The Foundation depends upon donations from its Board of Directors and from generous fans of track and field. In April 2011, the USATF gave out 20 grants to national youth athletic foundations.

Chaired by NASDAQ CEO Bob Greifeld, the Foundation’s Board is composed of 25 individuals who share a love of track and field and a desire to provide substantial financial support to under-funded programs and individuals. Board members range from Olympic gold medalists to Fortune 500 executives and entertainment industry luminaries (