Four-time Olympic gold medalist Johann Olav Koss is considered one of the best speed skaters the world has ever seen. But he’s done more than win Olympic gold medals for his athletic skills: he’s also the founder of Right To Play, an international nonprofit organization that uses the power of play to help children overcome adversity. And now Koss has one more reason to keep changing children’s lives—he’s been awarded the lucrative Henry R. Kravis Prize in Leadership for 2013.
The $250,000 prize is in its eighth year and seeks to recognize extraordinary leadership in the nonprofit sector. The prize will formally be awarded to Koss on April 18th, and the money will go toward supporting programs and events put on by Right To Play.
Henry Kravis, private equity mogul and founder of the prize, says that Right To Play and all other recipients of the prize “have a real and measurable impact in the community. Johann Olav Koss is not only a champion in his native country and a true hero for aspiring athletes, his legacy also now includes transforming the lives of hundreds of thousands of children through something as simple as the opportunity to play sports.”
In its twelve years of live, Right To Play has reached over one million children in 20 countries, helping to teach them skills that will allow them to overcome current adversity and create a better future for themselves. Right To Play also helps promote social change within communities, working with girls, boys, people with disabilities, those affected by HIV/AIDS, former combatants and refugees.
“Play can help children overcome adversity and understand there are people who believe in them,” Koss said. “We would like every child to understand and accept their own abilities, and to have hopes and dreams. But also, to have respect for the person on the other side of the field or who has been on the other side of conflict.”
For more information, check out our full profile of the Henry R. Kravis Prize in Leadership.