Gatorade POY gives back to Kaua‘i

Kalaheo High School cross country runner Emily Naylor utilized her new-found status of being the Gatorade Player of The Year in Hawai‘i for the sport to help benefit the state that helped make her successful.

Naylor, a sophomore at the Kailua, O‘ahu school, had the option to donate $1,000 of the scholarship money she received to an organization of her choice.

Naylor made a conscious choice to keep the money in-state, and the teenager chose to donate $1,000 to the Kaua‘i Running Club.

The sophomore standout earned the Gatorade POY honor after becoming one of the best runners in the state.

Naylor won the state meet this past season with a three-mile time of 19:37.87, breaking the tape 20.43 seconds ahead of her next-closest competitor and leading the Mustangs to a sixth-place finish as a team.

Naylor, who finished 99th at the state meet as a freshman, won eight of the 10 races she competed in this past fall. She was also the top Hawai‘i finisher at the Foot Locker West Regional championships, according to the press release distributed by Gatorade.

Naylor said she wanted to use her newfound status as a star athlete to help the islands.

“I thought it was pretty important because all the major organizations would probably get lots of donations from all of the other (Gatorade POY) winners,” Naylor said. “I just thought the donation (to the Kaua‘i Marathon) was helpful to people in my area to continue running or start running.”

The marathon industry, like every industry, is making adaptations to the new world, and no doubt the money Naylor donated will be a tremendous help in this COVID-19 world we now live in.

Perhaps the most refreshing aspect of this story is that it showcases a level of selflessness in a selfish world.

Naylor could have chosen to donate her earnings she received from Gatorade to a major company.

It is refreshing that she thought of local organizations that could benefit from small donations.

Hopefully, more elite athletes will take a page from Naylor’s example and continue to think about the local area that played a significant role in their success.

“It makes me feel pretty humble and good to be able to help inspire some kids to start running, continue running, stay healthy and fit, and enjoy the sport I love,” Naylor said.

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Jason Blasco, sports reporter, can be reached at 245-0437 or jblasco@thegardenisland.com

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