An athlete from Dartmouth College will be participating in the Chattanooga Ironman in order to raise money for OneOrlando, an organization dedicated to supporting the survivors and victims' families of the attack at Pulse Nightclub.
Phil Claudy, a junior majoring in economics, opened up in an op-ed for OutSports.com about coming to terms with his sexuality, the struggles he faced in doing so and about how athletics became a guiding light for him.
"When I was struggling to come to terms with my sexuality, I often looked with admiration at LGBT individuals who so bravely and unapologetically embraced who they are. From LGBT personalities in the media to a couple walking down the street, I looked forward to the day when I could be as self-actualized and confident as they were," Claudy said.
After feeling deeply affected by the shooting at Pulse, Claudy signed up for the triathlon and set up a GoFundMe page to collect donations.
"To me, the attack on Pulse was a direct attack on these individuals -- my role models. The shooting represented hatred trying to overcome the progress and equality that LGBT individuals have tirelessly fought for over the years. When I heard the news, I knew that I wanted to honor these individuals in some way."
This is not the first time Claudy has used his passion for athletics as a way to give back to the LGBTQ community. In November of last year, he penned another op-ed focusing on his battle with depression in the midst of accepting his sexuality. After eventually discovering his love for running, he signed up for the Philadelphia Marathon, set up a GoFundMe page and donated the proceeds to The Trevor Project.
"Since coming out and battling my depression, I've come to realize the important connection between my physical and mental health. I found that -- through running and strengthening my body -- I was also strengthening my mind and my sense of self," Claudy explained. "Running, as well as other physical activities, provided the escape from reality that I needed in order to take control of my depression. It was the stabilizing force in my life that allowed me to begin accepting who I am. "
The Chattanooga Ironman will be on September 25. Claudy's GoFundMe page -- which, as of this article's writing reached $2,220 of its $2,500 goal -- can be reached by clicking here.