Northern Arizona University’s Center for High Altitude Training has received a $25,000 contribution from the Ak-Chin Indian Community in support of Native American runners participating in the Flagstaff Running Project. The project, the core program of the center’s service as a U.S. Olympic Training Site, provides elite and emerging elite U.S. distance runners with high-level coaching, access to training facilities, and a wide array of support services.

The grant, received as pass-through funds from the city of Flagstaff, will provide financial support to Native runners who meet performance criteria established by the U.S. Olympic Committee, USA Track & Field, and the Center for High Altitude Training. A portion of the funds may target programs benefiting youth from neighboring tribes in northern Arizona.

The Ak-Chin Indian Community, comprising both Tohono O’odham and Pima people, operates Harrah’s Phoenix Ak-Chin Casino and publishes a newspaper called the Ak-Chin O’odham Runner.

“It has always been a tradition of our people to give back to the larger community in which we live,” said chairwoman Delia Carlyle of the Ak-Chin Indian Community. “We are pleased that these monies will help train elite runners to achieve their goals.”

The center is communicating with regional coaches and contacts to reach out to qualified Native American athletes for the Flagstaff Running Project.

“We already have two runners from the Navajo and White Mountain Apache tribes who, thanks to this generous contribution, are able to participate in the Flagstaff Running Project,” said the center’s director, Natalie Harlan. “This financial support marks a huge step forward in increasing our capacity to help these runners in a meaningful way.”

The Center for High Altitude Training hosts U.S. and international teams traveling to Flagstaff for training at altitude to enhance athletic performance. The U.S. Olympic Committee has designated the Center for High Altitude Training a U.S. Olympic Training Site, home to a Community Olympic Development Program, and a U.S. Olympic Community Partner.

For information visit www.nau.edu/highaltitude or call (928) 523-4444.