Caroline Wells Student-Athlete Awards Track Shack Youth Foundation Gatorade Play It Forward Grant

Central Florida native and Gatorade Florida Girls Cross Country Player of the Year, Caroline Wells, awarded Track Shack Youth Foundation with a $5,000 grant through the Gatorade Play It Forward initiative.

Sports have seen a double-digit decline over the past decade, largely due to tighter budgets in communities, but young people that participate in sports are found to be happier, healthier and better students. Gatorade Play It Forward empowers Gatorade Player of the Year recipients across the country to award local or national sports organizations with grants, so they can continue helping young athletes enjoy the benefit of sports. 

After Wells won the Gatorade Florida Girls Cross Country Player of the Year award, she then submitted a video to be considered for an additional grant. 

“The Gatorade Player of the Year award highlights student-athletes who set an example both on and off the field” said Kara Darling, Assistant Marketing Manager for Gatorade Player of the Year. “The grants give these athletes a chance to donate to organizations like Track Shack Youth Foundation that positively impact the youth in their own communities.”

“Caroline is an exceptional athlete, and we are extremely grateful that she selected the Track Shack Youth Foundation as her organization of choice for Gatorade’s Play it Forward grant program,” said Rebecca Church, President of Track Shack Youth Foundation.  “It’s so important that we continue to provide support to youth fitness and this grant will allow the Foundation to contribute funding to so many important programs.”

Wells is a senior at Winter Springs High School and has won four state championship races.  This past summer she ran the mile in 4:42.40 (No. 2 in state history) at the Brooks PR Invitational in Seattle.  In September 2021, she ran the fastest 5,000-meter cross country time in Florida high school history at 16:40.2. She plans to attend Stanford University next year.

All 607 Gatorade State Player of the Year recipients are awarded a grant to donate to the organization of their choosing. Each recipient is then given the opportunity to submit a video about why their chosen organization is deserving of an additional Grant.

To keep up to date on the latest happenings, become a fan of Gatorade Player of the Year on Facebook and follow the conversation on Twitter #GatoradePOY. For more on Gatorade Play it Forward, the Gatorade Player of the Year, including nomination information, a complete list of past winners and the announcement of the Gatorade National Player of the Year, visit PlayerOfTheYear.Gatorade.com

About Gatorade Player of the Year

The Gatorade Player of the Year is an athletic award program that annually recognizes student-athletes not only for outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character in 12 different sports: football, boys and girls basketball, baseball, boys and girls soccer, softball, boys and girls track & field, girls volleyball and boys and girls cross country. The Gatorade Player of the Year award is the most prestigious award in high school sports. In existence for more than 35 years, past winners include Peyton Manning, Abby Wambach, Karl-Anthony Towns, Jayson Tatum and many other sports icons.

Play It Forward is Gatorade’s cause marketing platform, which empowers every one of the Gatorade Player of the Year award winners to choose a local or national youth sport organization to receive a $1,000 grant from Gatorade. Gatorade State Players of the Year then have the opportunity to submit a video explaining why the organization they chose is deserving of additional grant money. 

About Track Shack Youth Foundation

Celebrating their 25th year, the Track Shack Youth Foundation’s purpose is to promote lifelong health and fitness emphasizing youth and running programs in our Central Florida community. To date, over $2.5 million has been committed to the local community, supporting a variety of different programs.  The Foundation is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization that was founded by Jon and Betsy Hughes, co-owners of Track Shack and Track Shack Events, and is managed by a Board of Trustees who have an interest in and dedication to the mission.  To find out more about the Track Shack Youth Foundation, to donate or apply for funds, please visit www.trackshackfoundation.org.

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