Fresh from Olympics (and bobsled), Jones launches new foundation
There was always someone there for Lolo Jones when she was growing up in poverty in Des Moines, Iowa.
Her first pair of track shoes was donated to her, and charitable organizations often helped her family pay the rent or the electric bill.
Now Jones wants to start giving back, launching the Lolo Jones Foundation on Thursday night with a reception at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
The main thrust of the Olympic and former LSU hurdler’s foundation will be a program called “Hurdles of Hope,” designed to assist families with incarcerated loved ones.
“For me it’s very personal because I relied so heavily on charitable contributions from various foundations” growing up, Jones said.
“I felt like starting this foundation should help kids with incarcerated parents since my dad was in and out of jail.”
Jones said she believes the families of who are doing jail time are an underserved group because of the social stigma involved.
“It’s not always a pretty subject to talk about,” Jones said. “When I was being raised there was a lot of embarrassment and shame that comes with having a parent who’s incarcerated.
“So you tend not to talk about it, and that means people don’t know you need help.”
Jones actually kicked off her foundation’s launch Thursday with personal appearances at McKinley Middle Magnet and Capitol Middle schools. Friday evening she is scheduled to attend an event at the Louisiana Leadership Institute.
“Maybe I’m not helping out a future Olympian,” Jones said, “but maybe a future doctor or lawyer, whatever it takes to get a kid out of poverty.”
After the reception, Jones was recognized on the court at halftime of the LSU women’s basketball team’s exhibition opener with Xavier of New Orleans, receiving a standing ovation from the crowd.
It’s been a whirlwind year for Jones, who competed in the London Olympics and finished fourth in her specialty, the 100-meter hurdles.
Jones, 30, has already announced that she will try to compete in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, but there could be another Olympics in her future as well.
After just three weeks of training, Jones made the U.S. national women’s bobsled team in tryouts last month in Lake Placid, N.Y. She now will attempt to make the U.S. Olympic team and compete in the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.
“It’s not as fun as it looks,” Jones said of bobsledding. “People describe it as a roller coaster, but it’s more like a car crash. There’s G-force pressures that press on the brakeman, so it’s very hard on your body.
“The thrill for me comes at the top. My job is to have the fastest start. That so easily translates to my job in track. And there’s the thrill of crossing the finish line with a teammate as opposed to track when you’re kind of on your own.”
Jones will be recognized on the field during Saturday’s LSU-Alabama football game. Before that, she will be featured as a guest picker on ESPN’s “College GameDay” show, which will be broadcast from LSU’s Parade Grounds.
“I am scared for this ‘College GameDay’ thing,” Jones said, “I’m not going to lie. I have to do some legit research. I can do the LSU stuff, but I think I’m going to have trouble with the other games.”
Jones’ segment will come on shortly before the program wraps up at 11 a.m.