Image: Clara Hughes
Friso Gentsch  /  EPA
Clara Hughes of Canada competes in the women's 3,000 meters speed skating event in Vancouver.
msnbc.com and NBC News
updated 2/25/2010 4:02:01 PM ET 2010-02-25T21:02:01

Canadian speedskater Clara Hughes is giving her bronze-medal bonus to a Vancouver program for at-risk youth, the.

Hughes, who carried the Canadian flag in the opening ceremony, said she'll give $10,000 to the Take A Hike Foundation. The organization takes youth from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside who are struggling in school and life on outdoor trips. They are provided with therapy and academic counseling, and they also take part in community service. The Vancouver School Board is partner in the charity.

Hughes, the most decorated Canadian Olympian, finished third in the women's 5,000-meter race on Wednesday. She had said it would be her last Olympic race.

It was her sixth medal in the Winter and Summer Games — she is the fourth Olympian to medal in both summer and winter. She won two bronze medals in cycling events at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.

She won gold in the 5,000 at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin and donated $10,000 of her own money to the charity Right to Play.

At a press conference Thursday, Hughes touched briefly on Canada's homeless problem. She said she took a wrong turn one day this past summer and ended up in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. She said she couldn't believe such a down-and-out neighborhood could exist in her country.

She also mentioned Joannie Rochette's performance in women's figure skating on Tuesday night. Rochette's mother came to Vancouver to watch her daughter but died of a heart attack on Sunday. Rochette delivered a gutsy performance that brought a thunderous ovation and put her in third place going into Thursday night's finale. Hughes said "because of what she did, she will continue to inspire me forever."

NBC News' Marybeth Fay contributed to this report.

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