Why Tri?

I still remember the day clearly: I was nine years old and had just finished my first triathlon, the Amy’s Amigos Be AMYazing! Reston Youth Triathlon. This was the first year that the race was held, and prior to competing, I barely even knew what a triathlon was. I was a year-round swimmer and occasionally went on bike rides with my dad, but swimming, biking, AND running all together seemed a bit crazy. Little did I know that the AMYazing triathlon would help me to discover my passion and enable me to compete in races across the country – meeting some of my best friends along the way.  

For the next several years, I continued to compete in local Reston races, falling more and more in love with the sport each time. In May of 2016, when I was 13, I decided that I was ready to take my chances at a more competitive race in Richmond, VA. Unlike my previous races, this was a draft-legal event with competitors from all over the USA. I would soon realize that there is a completely different dynamic from the non-draft legal races that I was used to. This race, the Richmond Youth/Junior Elite cup, was part of a series of races across the country, where youths (13-15) and juniors (16-19) can qualify for the USA Youth and Junior Elite National Championships in West Chester, OH by placing top 15 in their respective age groups. Given my podium finishes at local races, I was fairly confident going into the race, but nothing could prepare me for the level of competition that I was about to encounter. Needless to say, I realized that I wasn’t nearly as good as I thought I was, placing a disappointing 56th place among 71 youth girls.  

Soon after, I joined Endorphin Fitness, a local triathlon team with a focus on draft-legal racing. A year after joining Endorphin, I competed in the same race in Richmond, this time placing 13th and qualifying for nationals, where I went on to place 6th. Of course, this progress didn’t just happen overnight, and countless hours of training had to be put in – much more than I ever thought I would spend on a sport that I had previously only done for fun.  

To this day, one of my favorite races is the Reston Sprint Triathlon. Before I was old enough to compete, I remember waking up early and going with my dad to Lake Newport to cheer him and others on while they raced. I eagerly counted down the years until I could finally participate in this race. I love the Reston Sprint Triathlon because it is a well-organized and fun local race, which also serves as a fundraiser for local charities. My favorite thing about this race is competing with my dad and many other local friends, while biking and running past my neighborhood. I also love the enthusiasm of the many volunteers, who always give me an extra surge of energy while I am racing.  

I have come a long way since the days of putting on a shirt with my number on it and drying my feet with a towel before putting on my shoes. Now, triathlon (along with school) is an integral aspect of my life, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I train seven days a week, usually with two workouts a day. Sometimes I wonder why I’m doing this – especially after a bad race – but I make sure to look back at that very first race and remind myself of the joy and fulfillment that triathlon brings me.    

No feeling can compare to that of crossing the finish line after countless hours of blood, sweat, and tears, no matter the outcome of the race. Triathlon makes me feel confident and proud. It has taught me the importance of hard work, dedication, and holding myself accountable in the pursuit of a goal. I have realized that I am capable of so much more than I think possible, and I’ve learned not to let my mind hinder my physical capabilities.  

I firmly believe that everyone should have the opportunity to experience that “finish line feeling” and the satisfaction of achieving a goal that they have worked for. I want to give back to the community that has fostered and supported my love for the sport by helping other youth realize the joy that triathlon can bring, which is why I am so eager to begin working with CORE Foundation and help making triathlon more accessible to young children.  

About me: 

My name is Zoe Van Winckel. I am a junior at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. For as long as I can remember, I have been doing things outdoors (camping, hiking, skiing, traveling, …). Asides from triathlon and school, I love exploring new places, spending time with friends and family, and snowboarding. You can probably find me running in Lake Fairfax, biking with my dad in Loudoun County, or at home studying.

CORE Foundation thanks Zoe for sharing her inspirational message and for giving back to her community through triathlon. Sign up here to join the CORE Foundation mailing list for periodic updates about our events and volunteer opportunities.


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CORE Foundation in 2018 Reston Holiday Parade – Nov 23rd


Reston Town Center launches the festive season at the annual Reston Holiday Parade at 11:00 a.m. with Macy’s-style balloons, musicians, dancers, antique cars, characters, community groups, dignitaries, special guest emcees, and much more. The one-of-a-kind, one-hour, half-mile parade along Market Street also welcomes the arrival of Santa and Mrs. Claus in a horse-drawn carriage.

CORE Foundation and many of our CORE Causes like Kids of Reston will be there handling balloons! Please come join the fun!

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USA Triathlon Exclaims: Successful First Year Splash and Dash

By Cody Crowther | Sept. 17, 2018, 1:38 p.m. (ET)

splash and dash

USA Triathlon’s Splash and Dash Youth Aquathlon Series is currently finishing up its seventh season and is on pace for another record year. 2017 saw record participation of over 2,250 and 2018 is tracking to be well over that number. The mission of the Splash and Dash series is to introduce children to multisport in a fun, educational, family-friendly, and non-competitive environment. With over 60 events accepted into the series this year, USA Triathlon provides each of them with deliverables like shirts, finisher medals, items from our partners, and post-event stipends based on participation, acquisition of new youth annual members, and retention of participants from the previous year in the series.

As the youth triathlon and multisport event market can be very difficult, we are always thrilled to see successful youth events, especially in their first year. The Superhero Splash and Dash on Aug. 26 in Reston, Virginia had 139 participants and is one of several very successful events in the national series this year. We are interested to see how they did it. Hosted by the CORE Foundation, a non-profit organization in Northern Virginia, Executive Director and USA Triathlon Certified Race Director Taralyn Kohler discusses the event’s inaugural year success with Cody Crowther, National Events Coordinator and Co-Program Manager for Splash and Dash at USA Triathlon.

Cody Crowther: Please tell us about your event and where your participants came from? Who are your participants? Is your event part of a larger series or program? Or is it a standalone race?

Taralyn Kohler: The inaugural Superhero Splash and Dash brought together youth athletes and their families from all walks of life for the chance to experience multisport in the Northern Virginia area. The event was born out of a concept to create athletic experiences for kids in Northern Virginia who would otherwise not be exposed to those opportunities in cooperation with a grant from the USA Triathlon Foundation.

The Superhero Splash and Dash was produced by CORE Foundation, a 501(c)(3), which operates the largest sprint and youth triathlons in Northern Virginia. Proceeds are seeded back into the community to those who need it most from those athletic events. CORE Foundation enables others to be the change and participate with “Race With Purpose”, our personal fundraising program. Our youth program is 8 years old but the majority of the athletes in this event were new to CORE and multi-sport as evident by the number of new registrations sold.

CORE Foundation applied for and received a grant from USA Triathlon Foundation. This included paid entry fees, training support and clinics and gear to children experiencing homelessness and low income youth. When we received the grant in late Spring, we launched into action to make the program happen in less than 10 weeks. This resulted in 40 kids from local shelters and low income centers participating on scholarship.

CC: Why do you believe your event was such a success, especially in its first year?

TK: This event was successful for two main reasons: First, we had a hook and built an event that athletes and volunteers wanted to be a part of. Second, we used a high level of personal touch to reach out to our community and engage volunteers and sponsors.

We felt that we needed a catchy theme or a hook to pull this event off in a short period of time. When we applied for the USA Triathlon grant, we wrote that we wanted every child to cross the finish line feeling like a rockstar regardless of their demographic or ability. We replaced “rockstar” with “superhero” and the Superhero Splash and Dash was born. We wanted kids to leave confident, smiling and feeling an inch taller than when they stepped up to the starting line.

CC: What marketing techniques did you find very successful in recruiting participants?

TK: We recruited in three ways: targeted solicitation to our existing lists, social media and personal touch. In terms of social media, we found paid Facebook ads with targeted demographics to be extremely successful. They easily paid for themselves.

CC: What marketing techniques did not work for you?

TK: We tried handing out flyers at a swim meet, and this did not generate results.

CC: Many youth multisport events struggle to get large numbers of athletes. What would you suggest to other race directors who have a difficult time recruiting youth participants?

TK: Targeted Facebook ads worked out great. We suggest recruiting a strong core of volunteers and ask them to spread the word. Having a few strong sponsors who are also willing to offer social media shout outs is helpful. We were lucky to have a local musician and DJ produce our event. He was a true partner and gave us much media love. The local paper also published a pre and post event article offering positive press.

CC: Do we have any sort of training plan or clinics leading up to the event to get kids interested?

TK: Yes, in the summer months leading up to the event CORE Foundation reached out to community centers and homeless shelters in the area. We conducted clinics dressed like Wonder Woman and spoke on what to expect on event day as well as the benefits of multi-sport and trying something new. Healthy snacks were also handed out to kids from BARE Snacks encouraging healthy nutrition. These programs were very well received and integrated those kids into our CORE Foundation community. They were very prepared for event day and had a wonderful experience. We hope to significantly expand on clinics and training events for all kids in 2019.

In 2019, we hope to grow this program to 200 athletes while creating experiences for those kids in our community who need them the most. We will be adding additional clinics and enlisting the assistance and leadership of nationally ranked local high school triathletes. We will begin to post the profiles of these ranked athletes on our CORE Foundation blog this fall to continue engagement and generate interest for 2019.

CC: How do you plan on keeping in contact with the participants from this year’s race in the future?

TK: At the conclusion of the race, we did a post-race survey to parents. About half of the respondents said that they wanted to fundraise for CORE Foundation’s youth programs which is wonderful. We will be creating a targeted fundraising program for that group. Many of those who responded noted that they are interested in their child participating in a future clinics. 95% said they would or are very likely to participate again next year. We will create targeted lists based on interest. For the kids in shelters and low income centers, we plan to continue clinics and outreach with those groups. Many of the parents also joined our social media sites and we will continue to connect with them in that manner.


To contact Taralyn Kohler directly, please email tkohler@corefoundation.org.

For more information on the USA Triathlon Splash and Dash Youth Aquathon Series, please contact Cody Crowther.

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Gibson Family Gives Back to Their Community

“While we are not a social entrepreneurship company, it is one of AKG Design Studio’s core values, to work with other business owners and individuals to create a meaningful impact by giving back to our community.” – Anna Gibson, CEO, and Founder of AKG Design Studio.

This year my company and family are helping the CORE Foundation. The CORE Foundation helps a combination of the Reston charitable organizations and specifically helps at-risk youth and underprivileged kids in sports to provide them with a healthy lifestyle and habits.

While CORE supports many organizations, we chose to get involved in those supporting our community and specifically Cornerstones. Cornerstones is a nonprofit organization that promotes self-sufficiency by providing support and advocacy for those in need of food, shelter, affordable housing, quality childcare, and other human services. Being in the business of homes, we feel that every person should have a place to call home, with a warm meal and safety.

Our business and family chose to get involved with CORE after our trip to Louisville, KY this past February. While there, we learned about how many people were homeless because of where we stayed in the downtown area. My daughter and I experienced finding a homeless individual who was kind and gave us directions back to our hotel while warning us to be safe at night. We tried to provide him with the little food we had, but instead, he asked for a hot meal. Through our company’s marketing manager who lives in Louisville, we were able to get him that hot meal that night, as her family works close to the homeless community in Louisville. When I got home, it made me realize that I needed to do more for those who were homeless in my hometown.

Since we are an active family, we find it easy to connect through the sports to give back to our community. We know and understand the importance of sports in kids lives as it helps them grow up to be fit, confident, strong and capable. We hope to get many more kids involved, no matter what their financial abilities are. I recently finished my 2nd Reston Sprint Tri (which has raised over $300K for Cornerstones over the years). My daughter, Abigail, participated in the Reston Superhero Splash and Dash last weekend, while my husband, Andy, and I are volunteered on the course. And, would you believe, my husband Andy is so impressed with me doing the Sprint Tri two years in a row… He’s committed to doing it next year! At our CORE we and AKG Design Studio will continue to fill the needs of those in our community.

Setting my own bar a bit higher and chasing the bigger races, like a Half Ironman (Gulp!) I have signed up for Augusta Half Ironman on Sept 23rd. Sharing my journey with friends and family, we have used it to do additional fundraising for CORE Foundation, and were able to sponsor a few more kids to join us at the Splash and Dash. We have raised over $500.00. You can follow along our journey via this photo album.
Note from CORE Foundation: Thank you Gibson family and AKG Design Studio for your dedication and service to the Reston community and for sharing our vision. #BE THE CHANGE
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New CORE Cause – Kids of Reston

Creating a Reston Legacy 

OUR MISSION: Giving back so the next generation of Reston kids have the same opportunities to live, learn and play like we did.

We are focused on giving back to the community that gave so much to us as children.  Kids of Reston fund raise from those who have already benefited from the Reston experience. We do this by giving the donated resources to assist Cornerstones in providing a home for a family in need.  In addition, we help Cornerstones families in need with housing expenses including fees for pool passes, camps, sports clubs, music and art classes, and other recreation and leisure time activities.


$100,000 By Founder’s Day April 2019

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2018 Reston Youth Splash and Dash

Sunday, August 26th
CORE Foundation is proud to present the 1st annual Reston Youth Splash and Dash in cooperation with the Reston Association. This fun-filled community event will offer a perfect introduction to triathlon featuring a swim / run combination for kids aged 6-15.
The family friendly event is designed to help the youth athlete “get their feet wet” in triathlon. Participants receive a goody bag with a t-shirt and swag, a cool medal, and high fives from our awesome volunteers! Snow cones will be provided by Kona Ice!
Proceeds for the event benefit “Kids Helping Kids,” a CORE Foundation program which enables triathlon experiences for low income youth. Athletes have the option of launching a personal fundraising campaign, creating lemonade stands, etc.
We believe that every child should have the opportunity to cross the finish line!
Aquathlon is a fun and fast-growing sport that combines running and swimming. The Reston Youth Splash and Dash is a typical aquathlon with a run / swim / run combination. The USA Triathlon Youth Splash and Dash Aquathlon Series has 30 events taking place in each of the 10 USAT regions. The focus in on PARTICIPATION rather than competition.
  • Aquathlon creates an opportunity to meet friends and other youth athletes who are interested and also engage in the multisport lifestyle.
  • USAT certifies some coaches specifically for coaching youth and juniors.
  • Be a part of the over 43,000 youth annual members of USAT.
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RST Silent Auction is LIVE

Each year the Reston Sprint Triathlon conducts a Silent Auction of items donated by mostly local businesses and individuals at the event and give 100% of the proceeds to Cornerstones. Unfortunately, this year due to the bad weather conditions on the day of the event we were not able to have our Auction. We have decided to offer the Auction online to all who would like to help Cornerstones.

Please take time to visit:

RST for Cornerstones 2018 Silent Auction.

Thank you for your support!

View 2018 RST race results

See 2018 RST photos

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CORE Foundation’s Exec Director, Taralyn Kohler, talks to Competitor RUNNING News…

Recently, Kimberly Dawn Neumann interviewed our Tara Kohler for her article, How to Organize a Charity Race from Start to Finish.

Tara discusses the important aspects of charity race planning that need to be considered, and how support from a 501(c)3 nonprofit like CORE Foundation can be essential for event success. Tara stated,

“Creating a race to raise money for charity is an incredible way to mesh a competitive athlete’s drive with their desire to help others and fundraising extends the race experience beyond personal achievement,” said Taralyn Tharp Kohler, Executive Director of the CORE Foundation, a social entrepreneur non-profit which mentors leaders looking to raise money and make a difference through athletic events. “It’s a great way not only to encourage training accountability but also exercise participation while raising funds and awareness for a cause that athletes are passionate about.”

CORE Foundation helps great events like Amy’s Amigos’ Be AMYazing! Reston Youth Triathlon and the Reston Sprint Triathlon raise funds for The Childhood Brain Tumor Foundation and Cornerstones, respectively.
To read the full article, please visit Competitor RUNNING News.
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Susan Calderon Races to Help Cornerstones

The 2016 Reston Sprint Triathlon was the first triathlon that I participated in. I’m so glad that it was my first race, because it was such a friendly one. All the volunteers were very supportive, and the staff offered a lot of pre-race information and encouragement as well. I recommend the Reston Sprint for all first-timers!

The Reston Sprint launched me on a personal path to self-empowerment (I’ve since participated in longer length triathlons) and so, it’s time for me to share that experience. The CORE Foundation provides help to other organizations who want to help people, has sponsored the Reston Sprint since it began, in 2007. I am raising money for Cornerstones, one of the orgs that the CORE Foundation helps.

“Cornerstones is a nonprofit organization that promotes self-sufficiency by providing support and advocacy for those in need of food, shelter, affordable housing, quality childcare, and other human services.”

In my life, I have been fortunate to have the economic resources necessary to reach out and participate in empowering experiences. So, I am asking my friends to support me by supporting The Sprint and Cornerstones. If you are fortunate, as I am, to have the resources necessary to take care of yourself and your loved ones, will you help me raise funds for those who are not as fortunate as we? Thank you! Look for an update on Reston Sprint 2018 after race day, June 3rd.

Please help Susan to Race with Purpose by donating to her fundraising campaign for Cornerstones.

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