By Mike Watkins//Correspondent
Long-time USA Swimming corporate partner Phillips 66 has been a sponsor since 1973 and involved in the sport overall for seven decades. Today, Phillips 66 believes they can improve lives through energy, and in that spirit, usaswimming.org is highlighting swimmers of all levels who have benefited from Phillips 66's contribution and chosen to give back to the sport of swimming or to their community.
If you dropped some change or a few dollars into one of the Salvation Army’s Red Kettles in the Bremerton, Wash., area at any point in the early 2000s, it’s likely the young boy ringing the bell alongside his dad was 2008 and 2012 Olympic gold medalist Nathan Adrian.
Following in his father’s footsteps, Adrian, a longtime supporter of the Salvation Army himself since those early days, is championing the organization on a national level this year during the holidays.
As his charity of choice for the season, Adrian is going on a shopping spree for gifts for children at Target called “Dig Deep” on behalf of the Salvation Army Dec. 17, as well as attending the third annual Rock the Red Kettle Concert in Los Angeles Dec. 15.
“I’ve always liked the way the Salvation Army runs itself and believe it is a great means for giving back to those in need,” Adrian said. “I say that because I have seen the good that can come out of the Salvation Army. I have been to their Thanksgiving meals, and I have seen the way that the organization has helped people get back on their feet.
“I am most looking forward to shopping for toys for the Dig Deep event because I think it will be fun to help choose some great gifts for children that would not otherwise have anything to unwrap during the holidays. I believe it’s important to help others because it’s not necessarily about whether or not the person deserves it, or if the circumstances are their fault. Sometimes life happens, and you need help. I believe if people are in a spot to help, they should.”
As a kid, Adrian helped his dad pick up kettles at the end of each day and bring them to the Salvation Army, in addition to doing a little bell ringing. He admits to having a pretty short attention span then, so his time ringing at the kettle for donations didn’t last more than an hour at a time.
Still, that opportunity/obligation to give back and help others in need found its way long-term into the champion’s psyche and soul because of the way he was brought up.
“I lost touch with the Salvation Army a little bit since my younger years with the stress of college life and training for the Olympics keeping me pretty busy, but now that I have a little more time, I find myself able to give back a little bit,” Adrian said.
“My dad has been involved with the Salvation Army for as long as I can remember. He has always had a big charitable side to his personality, and the Salvation Army served as a great outlet for it.” \
As someone who counts himself among the very fortunate in many ways, Adrian said the ability to do something for others in any capacity is a special gift that everyone should embrace.
“I sometimes get a bit overwhelmed when I think about how many things have gone right in my life and when it comes down to it how lucky I am to be where I am at,” Adrian said. “Other people have not been so fortunate in their lives, and if I can give just a little bit of time to help some of those people out I think it is worth it. I am not in a position where I am trying to change the world quite yet, but a few hours here and there can definitely be a move in the right direction.
“I feel like I have found a point in my life where I can give back, and I just encourage others who have found themselves at a similar point in their life to do the same. It could be volunteering at your local homeless shelter or being a bell ringer for the Salvation Army. Just getting out there and doing something is enough.”