It is quite appropriate that the first AKTIV Against Cancer Award goes to CEO of Virgin Sport, Mary Wittenberg. Mary Wittenberg championed the opportunities for women in sports and business, concepts dear to the heart of Grete Waitz.
Grete Waitz became a true citizen of New York with her nine victories in the Big Apple. She contributed to the marathon's legacy and growth, from her 9 wins to her emotional run with Fred Lebow, the quixotic race director of the Five Bouroughs race.
Grete Waitz comprehended the value and importance of the women's movement within running. She also saw that, in her battle with cancer, that something was needed. The AKTIV Against Cancer Award is a wonderful example of the vitality of the movement co-founded in 2007 by the late, and always great, Grete Waitz. It is Grete's legacy.
The AKTIV Award is a fitting addition to the legacy of the great Norweigian runner.
Congrats to Mary Wittenberg!
She is missed by all who knew her.
Mary Wittenberg Named As Recipient of Inaugural AKTIV Against Cancer Award
Global CEO of Virgin Sport To Be Honored October 27 In New York For Her Career In Sports Business and Philanthropy
New York - October 21, 2015: AKTIV Against Cancer today announced that Mary Wittenberg, Global CEO of Virgin Sport, will be the first recipient of the AKTIV Against Cancer Award, which will be presented at a ceremony on October 27 at The Blue Water Grill in New York City as part of the Foundation's first-ever North American fundraising luncheon. George Hirsch, Chairman of New York Road Runners (NYRR) will present Wittenberg, the former president and CEO of the NYRR, with the award.
Supported by corporate sponsors such as Adidas, the award was created to honor the legacy of nine-time New York City Marathon Champion and Norwegian running superstar Grete Waitz. AKTIV Against Cancer was founded by Waitz and current Executive Director Helle Aanesen in Norway in 2007. After donating more than $14M and helping to create twelve physical activity centers in cancer treatment facilities throughout Norway, AKTIV Against Cancer established its official presence in the United States in 2014 and is now supporting groundbreaking work in exercise oncology at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. In 2014, AKTIV Against Cancer committed to $650,000 towards the research of Dr. Lee Jones at the Center.
"I am honored to accept this award on behalf of all the millions of people Grete impacted around the world through her running and her philanthropic work," Wittenberg said. "Grete's spirit lives on through the AKTIV Against Cancer foundation and the generations of runners and cancer survivors she has inspired."
"Mary and Grete are both trailblazers in athletics, business and philanthropy, and we are very pleased that she is the first recipient of the AKTIV Award," Helle Aanesen said. "She has steadfastly promoted and inspired physical activity and healthy lifestyles, along with philanthropy, for people around the globe throughout her career, and she continues to do so."
In addition to Wittenberg and Hirsch, others expected to be in attendance will include Olympic Gold medalist and marathon icon champion Haile Gebrselassie, defending TCS New York City Marathon winner Wilson Kipsang, and Jack Waitz, Grete Waitz's husband and AKTIV Against Cancer board member.
Mary Wittenberg is the global CEO of Virgin Sport, an active lifestyle company dedicated to creating a happier, healthier, and more connected society through participatory fitness events and programs. Virgin Sport is the newest company by one of the world's most recognized and respected brands. Conceived in 1970 by Sir Richard Branson, the Virgin Group has grown successful businesses in over 50 countries in travel, space, financial services, mobile telephony, leisure, and health & wellness.
Prior to Virgin Sport, Mary served as president and CEO of the New York Road Runners (NYRR). As the first woman to lead the organization, Mary elevated NYRR 's prominence and impact while seeking to lead a global running movement by making running more accessible to a broader audience. Mary joined NYRR in 1998 and was named its first COO in 2000 and then its president and CEO in 2005. During her tenure as CEO of NYRR, Mary served as the race director of the TCS New York City Marathon and created free youth running events and community health programs, expanding NYRR's commitment to millions of New Yorkers. Prior to NYRR, Mary was a partner in the law firm Hunton & William. A former competitive runner, she won the 1987 Marine Corps Marathon and competed in the 1988 U.S. Olympic trials marathon. She is a 2006 WISE Women of the Year honoree.
ABOUT AKTIV Against Cancer
AKTIV Against Cancer works to ensure that physical activity will become part of cancer treatment. We support cutting edge research on the benefits of exercise for the prevention and treatment of cancer, as well as the creation of fitness programs and facilities in cancer treatment centers. AKTIV Against Cancer was founded by 9-time NYC Marathon Champion and Norwegian running superstar Grete Waitz and current Executive Director Helle Aanesen in Norway in 2007. After donating more than $14M and helping to create twelve (12) physical activity centers in cancer treatment facilities throughout Norway, AKTIV Against Cancer established its official presence in the United States. In 2014, AKTIV Against Cancer committed $650,000 towards cutting edge exercise oncology research at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.