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|Levitetz Family Foundation to sponsor USA Wrestling’s Athlete Appearance Program for the next five years|
By Gary Abbott USA Wrestling
The Levitetz Family Foundation presents a check for $250,000 to USA Wrestling for the Elite Athlete Appearance Program. (left to right) Alan Rutner, Zach Levitetz, Jeff Levitetz, Dave Groomes, Derek Sikora of USA Wrestling
Thanks to a generous donation of $250,000 from The Levitetz Family Foundation, USA Wrestling’s popular Elite Athlete Appearance Program will expand and improve for the next five years. Each year, $50,000 will be provided for USA Wrestling to send top athletes and coaches to make appearances in local communities in support of wrestling.
The Elite Athlete Appearance Program was developed to help make young athletes’ dreams come true. This grant provides elite athletes an opportunity to meet and inspire kids, coaches, and fans all over the country. For more information on this exciting program, visit:
Elite Athlete Appearance Program website
“The foundation is happy to be affiliated with USA Wrestling and proud of what we are doing with the Elite Athlete Appearance Program,” said Jeff Levitetz, president of The Levitetz Family Foundation. “Wrestling had a big impact on my life and how I was able to develop as a person. It is our way of giving back to the sport which has given me so much.”
The donation will greatly enhance USA Wrestling’s existing Athlete Appearance Program, which has already placed 45 athlete appearances in 25 different states with at least 12,000 athletes attending the clinics or tournament appearances. USA Wrestling will be able to set up more appearances with more athletes in additional communities because of this generous grant.
“Jeff Levitetz is a true visionary, especially when it comes to helping others. This program has a huge impact on our sport and would not be possible without Jeff and the generous support from The Levitetz Family Foundation,” said Rich Bender, USA Wrestling Executive Director.
The expansion of the program is expected to make a major impact on the growth and development of wrestling on the grassroots levels, while providing a link between the current stars of our sport and the future of wrestling.
“The athlete appearance program is important at every level of USA Wrestling. Our youth wrestlers get to meet their heroes, the elite athletes are able to give back to a system that has given them so much, and our grassroots coaches are inspired to develop World and Olympic champions. This program generates a positive return throughout the entire wrestling community and its benefits will be felt for years to come. We are very grateful that Jeff Levitetz has committed to support this program,” said Les Gutches, USA Wrestling Associate Executive Director of Programs and Strategy.
As part of the expanded program, a new High School Athlete Appearance contest has been created, which will reward a high school program that has had a positive influence in their community through the wrestling program. USA Wrestling will reward one high school program an athlete appearance in the winter and one other high school program in the spring of 2014. High School programs can go to the Athlete Appearance Program website and submit information in order to be considered. The first winner will be picked on November 1st, 2013.
The Levitetz Family Foundation has supported other important USA Wrestling projects in the past, including a program which provided needy children an opportunity to attend summer wrestling camp, as well as a project which promoted the heritage of Olympic wrestling in the United States.
“The Levitetz Family Foundation was formed about five years ago with the idea of helping childrens charities, those people in need, to help them to learn to help themselves. Currently, we donate to over 30 different causes around the nation and internationally. Recently, we were proud to give to the Paralympic Champions Fund as a gold-level sponsor. Through our association with USA Wrestling, we were referred to the U.S. Paralympic community, which allowed us to get involved and directly help paralympic athletes and their programs,” said Levitetz.
Levitetz has long been a leader within USA Wrestling. Jeff was named USA Wrestling's Man of the Year in 2004 as well as serving as Team Leader for the 2004 U.S. Olympic Greco-Roman wrestling team in Athens, Greece. He was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame as an Outstanding American in 2002 and is also a member of the Illinois Chapter of the Wrestling Hall of Fame. He served as Co-Chairperson of the successful "Wrestling for the Next Millennium" capital campaign, which benefited USA Wrestling, the National Wrestling Coaches Association and the National Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum. He was also an active leader of the Gator Wrestling Club for many years. Jeff is the founder of Purity Wholesale Grocers, which began 30 years ago and is a leading nationwide distributer to the food and drug industry.
Jeff started his wrestling career in Deerfield, Ill. where he wrestled for 1968 Olympian Steve Combs. He continued his career at the University of Alabama, where he wrestled for 2x NCAA Div. I Champion Pat Milkovich.
“I had the good fortune to be coached by Steve Combs, who was on the 1968 Olympic team and later went on to be a founder of the U.S. Wrestling Federation. He taught me not to quit. He taught me that hard work and perseverance could pay off and in my life it has,” said Levitetz.