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Talk about serious support: Maternity brand Cadenshae announced Wednesday that they will be supporting three U.S. Olympic hopefuls through a formal partnership with the nonprofit &Mother.
Co-founded by Olympian Alysia Montaño (who Cadenshae sponsors personally) in May 2020, &Mother is a nonprofit dedicated to breaking barriers limiting a woman’s choice to pursue and thrive in both career and motherhood, starting with professional athletes.
Cadenshae, a global leader in activewear for pregnant and breastfeeding moms and now an official founding partner of &Mother, will provide the following three athletes with specialized elite sportswear, as well as donate financial contributions to go toward training, travel, and family support for the upcoming 2021 U.S. Olympic Track & Field Trials—and then, all going well, through the Tokyo Summer Olympics in July:
- Dawn Harper-Nelson, 36, competes in the 100m hurdles and won gold in the event in Beijing in 2008 before claiming the silver in London in 2012. Harper-Nelson is mother to Harper Renee Nelson, born April 2019.
- Sara Vaughn, 34, is a middle-distance runner who specializes in the 1500m. One of her most recent successes was placing third at the US Outdoor Track and Field Championships in California in 2017. Vaughn is a mother of four: Kiki (14), Calia (10), Cassidy (5) and Davey (1).
- Olicia Williams, 26, will be competing in the 800m at the US Olympic trials, and possibly the 1500m. As a Baylor University athlete, Williams was NCAA All-American and two time Big 12 Champion in the 800m. Williams is mother to 3-year-old Gia.
“Cadenshae inherently recognizes the value and importance of supporting mothers and everything they choose to do,” Cadenshae founder Nikki Clarke said in a press release. “We’ve always campaigned that women do not have to choose a career or motherhood…they should be able to thrive in both areas, given the right support.”
During the peak of her career in 2013, Montaño discovered brands weren’t always so on board with motherhood, having her professional contracts dropped by two brands following her pregnancies. Montaño’s treatment became the catalyst for a movement to find companies who support female professional athletes in pregnancy and beyond. Fellow moms and star runners, Allyson Felix and Kara Goucher joined Montaño’s cause, with all three women speaking out and standing up for maternal protection in their contracts.
“After my awful experiences, I’ve been on a mission to find companies who will back and showcase the ‘whole person,’ not just the athlete,” says Montaño. “Cadenshae is one of these trailblazing businesses, also Altra, Athleta, Nuun Hydration, Oiselle…but we need more. We want to show the world we can excel as athletes and as mothers.”
Nikki Clarke says Cadenshae and &Mother are clearly mission-aligned. “We’re honored to be part of &Mother’s movement that aims to break glass ceilings for the generations to come,” says Clarke. “Young women across the globe will see these athletes chasing down their dreams, and realize it’s truly possible to have it all.”
Montaño says things are moving in the right direction, but there’s still much that needs to be done. “We’ve lit the match, but the fire is yet to roar,” Montaño says. “We need other brands, other companies to sponsor female professional athletes for their whole career…not just the times that best serve them. With Cadenshae’s help, we can support three strong &Mother athletes, to continue showing the world how moms can get back to business when given the opportunity. Organizations need to see and accept that it’s possible.”
As for the athletes, Harper-Nelson says she’s beyond excited for the challenges ahead. “I know I speak for myself, Sara, and Olicia when I say every day of our training is about putting in our very best to give us the greatest chance at the Olympic trials to make the Olympic team. The blessing in all of this is not only are we pursuing our dreams but in doing so, we are able to create more exposure for the cause.”
Harper-Nelson continues: “We wouldn’t be where we are without the true support of &Mother and Cadenshae. It’s something very satisfying to be backed by these companies and people that ‘get it.’ They get the fight and desire, the behind the scenes and everyday life of not just an athlete, but a mother that wants to thrive. Hopefully our part in this initiative will see positive outcomes in the future for all women, in all careers. This is our time—we so deserve it.”
The 2021 U.S. Olympic Track & Field Trials are to be held in Eugene, Oregon in June 18-27. The 2021 Olympic Games are set to begin on July 23 2021 in Tokyo, Japan.