Who We Are
The US Athletes Hopeful Emergency Fund (USAHEF), founded in March 2020, is designed to financially assist U.S. athletes who are training to compete in the Olympic and Paralympic Games. USAHEF is currently raising funding for 2021 Olympic hopefuls who have been impacted by COVID-19.
In a recent article, the New York Times featured one of our athlete ambassadors, two-time Olympic Track & Field athlete Wallace Spearmon Jr. who spoke about the impact that COVID-19 has had on Olympic hopefuls.
In the wake of the International Olympic Committee’s decision to postpone the summer games until July-August 2021, US athletes are reeling. Just as Americans all over the nation are being laid off and families are suffering as a result of the coronavirus, so too are they.
Some have had contracts limited or even cut due to lack of competitions. Others continue to manage their anxiety and mental health while wondering how they’ll take care of their families and loved ones for another year.
Our founder, Chris, created The US Athletes Hopeful Emergency Fund, because he was tired of seeing U.S. athletes launch GoFundMe pages to meet their financial obligations in order to represent Team USA at the Olympics. If it wasn’t for crowdfunding, many athletes have explained they would not have been able to afford some of their biggest expenses, like travel, training camps, and entry fees for competitions to adequately prepare to qualify for the Olympic Games. Now that COVID-19 has hit the nation, these athletes are often unable to afford training and, in some cases, basic needs. Without a formal relief fund in place, we are in danger of losing some of our most talented U.S. athletes.
Chris is a 2019 graduate of Harvard Business School’s Executive Education Program and Alumni of Harvard Business School. He received a Graduate Certificate from the Sports Industry Essentials program at Columbia University in 2018. Prior to his graduate education achievements, Chris received his BA in English Literature from Villanova University in 2011.
While at Villanova, Chris was a 2x Big East Champion on the Indoor & Outdoor Track and Field teams as well as a member of the Cross-Country team under legendary coach and four-time Olympian Marcus O’Sullivan.
Jill Collen Jefferson
Jill Collen Jefferson is an antitrust, civil rights, and human rights attorney based in Washington D.C. Prior to her legal career, in brief, she was a political speechwriter and message and media strategist. She has served in roles on Capitol Hill, The White House, national and state political campaigns, think-tanks, and advocacy nonprofits.
In 2009, she joined the Civil Rights Cold Case Project, where she helped to investigate the 1964 lynching of Clifton Walker for four years. Searching for evidence and compiling findings taught her that, even half a century after the civil rights movement, just because a cause is right, that does not mean that people will care or notice. It taught her that real progress takes more than being passionate about a cause; it takes a pragmatic eye toward its execution.
She witnessed firsthand derivations of poll taxes on President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign where she served as a speechwriter. It became real to her that other basic rights could unravel in a day if voting—this one single right—were obstructed. She realized then that civil rights work is the single most important barrier between people’s fear and their power.
She earned her bachelor’s degree in English and history with distinction at the University of Virginia and her J.D. from Harvard Law School. She hails from a farm in southeastern Mississippi.