In recent weeks, communities across North America have endured extreme weather and heartbreaking devastation. The recent wildfires in Napa and Sonoma have mobilised the entire Northern California community, including emergency responders and regional municipal support, to help people whose homes and property continue to burn – sadly, hundreds of people are reported still missing. We encourage everyone to help the affected communities by visiting the websites of the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army.
It is under these devastating circumstances that we cancelled Virgin Sport’s inaugural US San Francisco Festival of Fitness, scheduled for this weekend. Ongoing public health air-quality issues, and the need to focus emergency response and volunteer efforts where they are needed most, made this decision unquestionably the right thing to do.
In difficult circumstances like this, it takes steady leadership and a full heart to make the right decisions. Days after Hurricane Sandy, the New York City marathon had to be cancelled – much to the disappointment of runners who trained and worked so hard to achieve this milestone – and the decision wore heavy on the shoulders of the head of the marathon, Mary Wittenberg.
Richard Branson Mary Virgin Sport San Francisco
It was right thing to do, as the city could then focus its resources on the people and neighbourhoods that experienced the hurricane’s damaging impact. Mary joined Virgin a few years ago to start Virgin Sport as our global CEO. The Virgin Sport events in the UK – from the British 10K to Hackney and Oxford – have been inspiring gatherings for all. Alongside Mary, the amazingly energetic Virgin Sport team and their wonderful partners (including the city of San Francisco) have worked hard to prepare an incredibly fun festival for the US. To prepare for anything only to have it cancelled is painful; even more so when there is unprecedented hardship occurring, including loss of life and recovery efforts.
We are proud of the resilience and bottomless compassion Mary and the Virgin Sport team have relied on to make tough calls and do the right thing. Please keep the people of California in your thoughts; Virgin Sport will be drawing upon their strength and positivity to focus on the immediate priority of the safety and health of the thousands of people impacted by the wildfires.
Richard Branson Virgin Sport Hackney Festival of Fitness runners high five
To support the North Bay fire relief efforts and all those impacted by recent events, Virgin Sport will be making a donation to the Northern California coastal region chapter of the American Red Cross, which will be matched by a donation from Virgin Sport founding partner ASICS America.