Triple Crown looks to expand and become official nonprofit organization

People associated with the AuSable River Canoe Marathon, New York’s General Clinton Canoe Regatta, and Quebec’s Classique Internationale de Canots de la Mauricie are working together to create a 501(c)(3) organization for the Triple Crown of Canoe Racing, an effort that organizers hope will draw more public interest for the three races, create more merchandising opportunities for the Triple Crown and its three races, increase tourism in the regions, and generate more sponsorship money. Also, the effort hopes to eventually create funding sources for growing the sport of marathon canoe racing and preserving and protecting river resources in all three regions where the races are staged.
The AuSable Marathon, a 120-mile nonstop canoe race from Grayling to Oscoda conducted in July, the General Clinton, a 70-mile race held on the Susquehanna River in New York during Memorial Day weekend, and La Classique, a three-day/three-stage race on Quebec’s St. Maurice River conducted during Labor Day weekend, are the three events that comprise the Triple Crown of Canoe Racing. The Triple Crown “recognizes the top performances by marathon canoe racers who compete at North America’s three most prestigious marathon canoe races,” according to the Triple Crown website.
The Triple Crown effort is looking to become more formal and to expand, said Steve Southard, a longtime AuSable River Canoe Marathon volunteer. 
“We want to increase the participation in the Triple Crown, but the way to do that is create more high quality public exposure of the three races and everything that goes with it,” Southard said.
The group will set in process an effort to secure 501(c)(3) tax-deductible nonprofit status for the new Triple Crown organization, Southard said. 
“We have the assistance of an attorney and an accountant to help with this process. We’re not just winging it,” Southard said.
According to, 501(c)(3) is a “portion of the US Internal Revenue Code that allows for federal tax exemption of nonprofit organizations, specifically those that are considered public charities, private foundations or private operating foundations,” and one of the main features of those authorized as 501(c)(3) status “is the tax deductibility of donations,” allowing “a deduction, for federal income tax purposes, for some donors who make charitable contributions to most types of 501(c)(3) organizations.”
The Triple Crown organization will be creating improved social media and traditional media coverage of all three races, according to group officials.
Southard said sponsorships and a possible crowdfunding effort are methods the Triple Crown could use to raise money for expansion of live social media coverage of the races. 
“This year, we will step up the social media effort at New York’s General Clinton race,” Southard said. “We are going to try to do something new and special in terms of live and nearly live social media coverage at the AuSable Marathon.”
The intention is to create online merchandising for all three races and the Triple Crown. The group has recently previewed new logos and new posters for the Triple Crown developed by Paul Gauthier, of Quebec, as part of the process.
Renowned free-lance photographer Erich Schlegel, of Austin, Texas, has joined the Triple Crown team. Schlegel will do photographic and video projects at all three races. His images will be available to the media and will be utilized in marketing and merchandising the Triple Crown and the three races. Schlegel has had photos published in National Geographic, USA Today, National Geographic, The Nature Conservancy, and many more notable publications.
By generating more revenue, the Triple Crown hopes to distribute more bonuses to the paddlers in the three races in a variety of categories. Southard said the group also hopes to raise enough money to support river conservation efforts in the race areas and “support marathon canoe racing programs” for both young people and adults.
Southard said the Triple Crown organization is working toward having a press conference in Montreal in March “to kick the whole thing off.”
Those involved hope the Triple Crown effort will increase cooperation among the three races.
“Everybody will be pulling in the same direction,” Southard said. “In the end, the sport will be better off. I’m pretty excited.”
For more about Erich Schlegel: For more about the Triple Crown of Canoe Racing: OfCanoeRacing.

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