World Champions and Olympic athletes support Friends of the Children – Lane County Oregon
Lane County will always remain near to the hearts of Brianne and Ashton Eaton. Both are graduates from the University of Oregon and well decorated track athletes. Brianne Theisen-Eaton is a two-time World Championships silver medalist, a World Indoor Champion gold medalist, a bronze medalist in the 2016 Summer Olympics in the Women’s heptathlon, and the Canadian record-holder in the heptathlon and indoor pentathlon. Ashton Eaton, a decathlete, holds five world records, gold medals in the 2012 and 2016 Summer Olympics, two gold medals in the World Champions, and a three-time gold medalist in the World Indoor Champions.
The powerhouse couple have found many ways to give back to the community that supported them through their athletic careers. In 2021, Friends of the Children – Lane County (Friends – Lane County) approached the Eaton’s about creating a signature annual event that would raise awareness about the organization through an inclusive multi-discipline track event. The Eaton’s passion for helping youth, especially those who are struggling against systemic and historical barriers, inspired them to say yes.
Though the event was scheduled during the middle of the COVID19 pandemic, 128 youth had the experience of a lifetime: participating in the first children’s event at the newly constructed Hayward Field at the University of Oregon. Hosted in partnership with USATF, Track Town USA and KIDSPORTS, youth participated in seven different running, jumping, and throwing events while being coached by Brianne, Ashton, and other Olympic and college athletes. Friends of the Children hopes to build off the event’s success to grow it into a Lane Country tradition that is enjoyed by youth and adults alike.
Brianne and Ashton also inspired the creation of Fleetfoot’s Rise, a Eugene-centered children’s book that celebrates hope, resiliency and perseverance while honoring the area’s rich track and field history. The book highlights the role coaches/mentors can play in bringing out the best in others. Co-authored by Friends – Lane County’s Executive Director, Matt Springer, the idea of creating the book spouted from watching the Eaton’s one year old son scamper around the Hayward field during the Eaton Family Athlon.
We are grateful for the Eaton’s and their commitment to finding ways to remind children they are capable of overcoming obstacles and achieving greatness.