Cracker Jack, a Frito-Lay brand based in Plano, Texas, recognized nine young women athletes with its I am Cracker Jill Award. The recipients will receive $5,000 from Cracker Jack to support their sports endeavors.
Cracker Jack's commitment to investing in women's sports through the Cracker Jill program also includes donating $400,000 to date to the national non-profit Women's Sports Foundation (WSF) to expand access and opportunities for girls and women in sport so they can play, compete and lead without barriers. Last year, Frito-Lay launched the All-in with Frito Lay program, a three-year commitment to increase equity in sports by working with partners and organizations to enhance resources and training for young athletes.
The grand prize winner, Lindsey Zurbrugg, was also selected to represent aspiring female athletes across the country by being the first athlete to join the Cracker Jill roster and appear on special-edition Cracker Jill packaging.
"The I Am Cracker Jill Award submissions told incredible stories of hundreds of young female athletes across the nation who are working to break down barriers and leave their mark on sports—they are all truly remarkable," said Leslie Vesper, vice president of marketing at Frito-Lay North America. "We selected Lindsey to become the first real athlete in the brand's history to join the Cracker Jack roster so that girls nationwide will be inspired to keep playing and keep achieving when they see Lindsey's story on our bags in stores and in stadiums."
Recipients were selected from hundreds of inspiring female applicants who applied to the contest through a partnership between Cracker Jack, the WSF and program ambassadors: international soccer star Mallory Swanson, professional swimmer and 29-time Paralympic medalist Jessica Long along with WSF Athlete Ambassador and two-time Paralympic medalist Sophia Herzog-Gibb.
“It was so important for me as a young girl to see others who looked like me competing in sports because it helped me believe that I can follow my dreams, which is why I’m so proud to have worked with Cracker Jack on this program,” said Long. “The more amazing women Cracker Jill can help elevate, the more likely it is that a young girl will be able to see and imagine themselves accomplishing their own dreams.”
The full list of I Am Cracker Jill Award finalists include:
- Bella Rasmussen, football: From Laguna Beach, California, Bella has spent the past four years playing football in the hopes of inspiring other young women and girls to pursue their interest in football.
- Corinne Thompson, modern pentathlon: From Gainesville, Georgia, Corinne learned what it takes to compete with the best in the world after having competed at the international level and continues to train and work hard to prove to herself that she belongs with the best.
- Emma Stertz, biathlon: Emma credits her hometown of Grand Rapids, Minnesota for helping her discover her passion for biathlon, which in turn has helped teach her how to deal with setbacks, especially in overcoming her diagnosis of Scheuermann's malformation of the spine.
- Jaleen Roberts, Paralympic track and field: From Chula Vista, California, Jaleen is a two-time Paralympic medalist and uses her platform to inspire other young, marginalized athletes and advocate for ending the stigma around mental health.
- Lindsey Zurbrugg, wheelchair basketball: From Hillsboro, Oregon, Lindsey understands the important life lessons people can learn from sports like the importance of accountability, work ethic and timeliness.
- Olivia Ohlson-Ellis, golf and softball: From Evanston, Illinois, Olivia has played a wide range of sports. Sports have taught her important leadership and life skills and she hopes through her sports service work she will help keep young girls participating in golf and softball.
- Sally Cohen, surfing: Having grown up in Haleiwa, Hawaii, surfing is way more than a sport to Sally, it's a way of life. As a professional surfer, her sports dream is to inspire other female competitors to be the best versions of themselves.
- Sohana Raisa, weightlifting: From Sanford, Florida, Sohana is the only Bangladeshi female and Hijabi high school competitive lifter in the state and has used her passion for sports to overcome every obstacle and stereotype in her way to achieve her dreams.
- Tahirah Abdul-Qadir, martial arts: Born into a family of world-champion martial artists in Syracuse, New York, punching and kicking was always in Tahirah's future, and she has a laundry list of accolades in the sport to show for it.
Cracker Jack is a brand of Plano, Texas-based Frito-Lay, the convenient foods business unit of PepsiCo, Purchase, New York.
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