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Izzo competes for a good cause

July 21, 2010
By MIKE LYNCH, News Sports Writer

    Some athletes use Ironman as a means of improving themselves. For Sandra Izzo, the intense competition is an opportunity to help others.

    Izzo is using this weekend’s Lake Placid Ironman as a fundraiser for Rachel’s Vineyard after-abortion healing program.

    She is raising money through the Janus Charity Challenge, a program designed and sponsored by the investment management firm, Janus. The program helps motivate Ironman athletes to use their race experience to raise money for charity. Janus Charity Challenge participants can choose their favorite nonprofit organization as their beneficiary.

    Since the program’s inception in 2001, triathletes have raised more than $42 million for hundreds of charities throughout the United States. Janus also makes additional contributions to the beneficiaries of the top fundraisers at each of the full-distance U.S. Ironman races. 

    Rachel’s Vineyard, a national retreat program offers an opportunity for healing to anyone struggling with the emotional and spiritual pain of abortion: mothers, fathers, siblings or grandparents. The retreat is a chance to begin healing through a supportive, non-judgmental and compassionate process.

    “These retreats are really a very nonjudgmental and very confidential and very safe place for these women who suffered internally, emotionally and spiritually for sometimes years and years and years,” Izzo said.

    Rachel’s Vineyard retreats are offered twice a year in the Diocese of Ogdensburg, which includes the Tri-Lakes region. Spring and fall retreats are held at the Guggenheim Lodge in Saranac Lake. All proceeds raised through Izzo’s participation in the Ironman will benefit the Diocese of Ogdensburg’s Rachel’s Vineyard.

    Izzo said that abortion is something that affects many people and is often kept a secret.

    “Forty-three percent of woman by the time they reach 45 years old will have had an abortion,” Izzo said. “Everybody knows someone who had an abortion.”   

    But dealing with the emotional issues of abortion can have negative consequences for those involved.

    “There have been all kinds of studies and it’s very well known that for many women, this pain within them can affect all areas of their lives,” Izzo said. “It can cause other problems — anything from anxiety, depression, suicide and whatnot. It’s a very secret thing because they’ve been taught there’s nothing to talk about. Nothing to mourn about and it’s a very damaging thing internally.”

    For Izzo, this will be her first Ironman since 2002, when she competed in triathlons in Lake Placid and Wisconsin. She also competed in 2000 in Lake Placid and Hawaii.

    The Ironman consists of a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and 26.2 mile run.

    Izzo said she’s been training since April, which is a late start compared to most athletes, but that’s OK for Izzo. She isn’t in it to win.

    “My goal is to finish,” Izzo said. “I don’t have any time in mind at all. I just really want finish this because I have a lot of people dependent on me finishing. It’s just important that I finish for that reason.”

    More information about Rachel’s Vineyard and a list of national retreat dates and locations is available at

      To make a contribution, go to and click on “How to Donate” or contact Sandy Izzo at 518-523-2410. Donation checks should be make payable to “Rachel’s Vineyard” and forwarded to the Diocese of Ogdensburg’s Respect Life office at 175 Lake Street, Saranac Lake, NY 12983. All donations are tax deductable. To count toward the charity challenge, donations must be made by 2 p.m. on July 24.

Article Photos

Sandra Izzo



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