Michael Phelps Returns to United States and Partners with Visa to Help Introduce NYC Kids to Swimming


NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Aug. 28, 2008--Michael Phelps - a 14-time Olympic gold medalist - today teamed with Visa Inc. (NYSE: V), a Worldwide Olympic Partner for more than two decades, to present a Play Every Day jump-start grant to the YMCA of Greater New York. The funds will help the YMCA expand participation in its 2nd Grade Swim program, purchase new swimming equipment, and also support aquatic facility expansions in Brooklyn and Queens.

Today's announcement is a continuation of Visa and its family of Olympic athletes ongoing commitment to the Partnership for Play Every Day - an effort to raise national awareness and support for increasing and improving the spaces where America's youth can play.

"For America's kids, the time to play and swim is today," said Phelps. "We need everyone's help in providing all kids with safe and well-equipped spaces where they can exercise, have fun and maybe even begin to pursue their own Olympic dreams."

The Partnership for Play Every Day brings together organizations including nonprofits, businesses and government agencies to ensure that all children get at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day. Federal funding for local parks, playgrounds, trails and open spaces has decreased in recent years, and one of the partnership's objectives is to increase the number of settings where kids can engage in physical activity.

"As a longtime Olympic sponsor, we're committed to empowering current and future Olympic team hopefuls to reach for and achieve their dreams," said Hans Morris, president, Visa Inc. "We believe in the Play Every Day call to action and saw an opportunity to involve Michael in an initiative that addresses a growing issue and will introduce more kids to Olympic sports."

Visa has had a long standing relationship with Michael Phelps through its Team Visa program, featuring him in Olympic marketing materials around the world including four national television commercials, and partnering with him to grow the sport of swimming around the world through domestic and international goodwill tours.

This marks the fourth jump-start grant presented to the partnership since Visa began supporting and promoting the Partnership for Play Every Day initiative at the one-year countdown to the Beijing Olympic Games in August 2007. Previous grants were made in New York, Washington D.C. and San Francisco.

"We are delighted that Visa, Michael Phelps, and the YMCA understand the importance of teaching children how to swim and to have a respect for water at an early age," said Dennis M. Walcott, Deputy Mayor for Education and Community Development. "Swimming can teach discipline, develop focus and enhance self confidence among children at an early age. By expanding Second Grade Swim, more students can develop these skills earlier which can go a long way in helping them to become strong students as well as strong swimmers."

"We're thrilled to have Visa and Michael Phelps on the Partnership for Play Every Day team," said Jack Lund, president & CEO of the YMCA of Greater New York. "To reach our ultimate goal of getting America's youth moving, we need influential voices like these to rally all Americans around increasing the spaces and places where our kids can play. Through this support we're able to expand participation in our youth swimming program and continue to ensure that no child will be turned away due to capacity or financial limitations."

About Visa

Visa Inc. operates the world's largest retail electronic payments network providing processing services and payment product platforms. This includes consumer credit, debit, prepaid and commercial payments, which are offered under the Visa, Visa Electron, Interlink and PLUS brands. Visa enjoys unsurpassed acceptance around the world, and Visa/PLUS is one of the world's largest global ATM networks, offering cash access in local currency in more than 170 countries. For more information, visit www.corporate.visa.com.

About the Partnership for Play Every Day

In a voluntary and collaborative initiative of unprecedented scope, the National Recreation and Park Association, the YMCA of the USA, and the National Association for Sport and Physical Education are working together as conveners of The Partnership for Play Every Day to increase the spaces and quality of play for our country's children and youth. These organizations have a proud legacy of providing physical education, physical activity, childcare, after school programs and youth sports to millions of children throughout the country. The challenge today is to reach all our kids, especially those who aren't afforded these same opportunities. Through this dynamic collaboration with more than 30 of the nation's leading non-profits, government agencies, academic organizations and corporations, we can create and sustain the momentum for a national movement to ensure that all kids get 60 minutes of physical activity every day. www.playeveryday.org

CONTACT: Fleishman-Hillard
Steve Hickok, 212-453-2353
[email protected]
J.J. Carter, 415-318-4161
[email protected]

SOURCE: Visa Inc.