Coolibar athlete Jeremy Van Ek reflects on the DesPlaines River Canoe & Kayak Marathon. With his trusty Coolibar hat protecting him from the elements, he paddled down 18.5 miles of the DesPlaines river in the suburbs of Chicago. It’s the second longest running paddling race in the US and typically has 500 to 600 boats racing toward the finish.
We heard from more than 100 athletes in our search for the 2012 Coolibar Athlete Team. We then had the difficult task of narrowing down our list to an exceptional group that we hope will inspire others through their actions. Now, we’re proud to introduce our 2012 Coolibar Sponsored Athletes.
As a certified personal trainer, Kristie coaches others on how to be healthy on the inside, as well as the outside. As a melanoma survivor she’s passionate about sun safety, especially since becoming a Mom. Running is her passion, whether it is on a trail or the city streets. Now she’s taking her passion for running, and sun protection, to reach her goals of finishing an ultra marathon, become a USA Track and Field Masters All American, and reach as many people as possible with the message of sun protection.
Jeremy—finance professional by day, proud father by night and weekend and adventure racer in any spare time he gets. Adventure racing is an outdoors multisport team competition. Disciplines usually include trail running, mountain biking, paddling and special challenges. Races also range in length anywhere from four hours to 10 days!
Skiing is a large part of Tania’s life. After traveling to a ski resort in Oregon where elite US ski cross athletes were training, she knew it was something she had to do. Even though she has only two seasons of ski cross racing under her belt, she’s been titled 2011 USASA Woman’s National Ski cross champion and the USSA Revolution Tour Champion. Tania’s serious about training, despite her setback of having kidney disease, and hopes to qualify for an Olympic spot in the future.
Peter is a tennis guru, having played competitively for almost 30 years. He’s a USTA and CMITA league playing with a 4.5 ranking. He also enjoys staying active outdoors with surfing, skiing and running. In 2011, Peter discovered skin cancer on his back, but he hasn’t let that stop his passions, including finding the time to write a book on tennis!
Elena is a Class A Member of the LPGA Teaching and Club Professional Division and a graduate of the University of Iowa where she was captain of the golf team for three years. She is an accomplished player with many individual titles both as an amateur and a professional. Now, blending her experience playing and coaching golf, she’s Director of Instruction through her company, Experience Golf, offering a comprehensive approach to the game including overall performance and player development.
Meet Coolibar Athlete Chad Grigsby. Grigsby is a professional angler is on his 10th year as a full-time pro on the FLW Tour, the top level of tournament bass fishing. He holds seven top ten finishes on the Tour and one win. He spends more than 100 days a year on the water during practice and tournament days, sometimes up to 15 hours!
Vitiligo, a chronic skin condition in which there is a loss of pigment in areas of the skin, affects roughly 2 million people in the U.S. Karl Dunbar can still recall the first day white spots began to appear on his skin. “I was in seventh grade and my vitiligo started to appear on my right hand (on my thumb) and over my right eye,” says Dunbar. “At first, I tried to hide it by wearing gloves.” Now, Dunbar plays an essential role as the defensive line coach for the New York Jets. He also knows a thing or two about becoming comfortable in his own skin.