USOPC gets record $10 million donation for mental health

Olympics Tokyo
People wearing a face mask walk by the Olympic rings outside Japan Olympic Museum near National Stadium, where opening ceremony and many other events are planned for postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympics, Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021, in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato)

The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee is receiving a record $10 million donation to support its expanding mental-health programming.

The donation, which is the largest standalone gift in the 10-year history of the committee's charitable arm, comes from the Rieschel Family Foundation headed by longtime supporters Yucca and Gary Rieschel.

“We strongly believe that our athletes engaging with their local communities will reduce the stigma associated with seeking help and create relevance for the Olympic and Paralympic movements in those communities,” Gary Rieschel said in a statement released Tuesday announcing the gift.

The USOPC said the gift will help bolster resources for the USOPC's mental-health program, which is on a three-phase expansion scheduled to culminate with the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles.

Starting in 2020, when the USOPC expanded its focus on mental health, it says it has hired eight new licensed providers, logged 1,700 unique encounters with athletes and created a registry with more than 200 providers around the country.

Christine Walshe, the president of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Foundation, which will officially receive the money and allocate it to the USOPC programming, called the donation “truly game-changing for our athletes and the entire organization.”

The Rieschels sit on the board of the foundation, which received more than $53 million in donations in 2022. The foundation typically directs money to programs that support Olympic athletes and invests the rest in an endowment. Since this $10 million donation is a “directed gift,” it will all go toward the mental-health program.