Platforms for Good: Summer Sanders and Plan International USA

On February 20, 2020, global development organization Plan International USA announced its newest Ambassador, Summer Sanders Schlopy.

An Olympic athlete and most decorated U.S. swimmer in the 1992 Olympics, Summer is known for using her platform for good. She rose to precedence as a member of Stanford’s swimming team, taking on the 1992 National Championship and Olympic Games. In Barcelona, Summer became the most decorated U.S. swimmer with one bronze, one silver, and two gold medals.

summer sanders
Summer Sanders Schlopy joins Plan International USA as their newest celebrity ambassador. (Photo Credit: Outside Online)

In the early 1990s, Summer turned to television, commentating the NCAA Swimming Championships for CBS Sports, and hosting MTV’s surf-and-sun competition show Sandblast. Her numerous television accolades include correspondent, co-host, and host for a range of sporting events, TV series, and competition shows.

Summer is known for using her platform for good: she competed on both Celebrity Apprentice and Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook-Off, using both opportunities to raise awareness for the charity Right to Play, where she has been an ambassador since its foundation in 1996.

Founded by Olympian Johann Olav Koss, Right to Play works to “protect, educate and empower children to rise above adversity using the power of play.” By providing sports equipment to marginalized communities around the world, Right to Play inspires children to do what children do best–play.

“I got so much from sports,” Summer says. “I learned so much about how to be a good person, upstanding person, teamwork, dealing with failure, dealing with success, and having so much fun. As a mom of two kids, it’s my responsibility to show them these same things and to help children around the world have the opportunity to learn and grow through our programs.”

Summer brings this responsibility-first mentality to her partnership with Plan, where she will amplify the organization’s mission to overcome oppression and gender inequality around the world.

“There are so many barriers that keep girls from reaching their full potential,” she says. “I’ve been a silent supporter of Plan’s work through donation for more than 10 years but I decided it is time to use my platform and amplify this cause’s voice. Plan does amazing work in more than 80 countries providing support and resources children and girls need to succeed. I’m proud to lend my voice to this great effort.”

Summer joins a star-studded cast of Plan celebrity ambassadors, including Little League World Series pitcher Mo’ne Davis, journalist and news anchor Richard Liu, model and philanthropist Toni Garrin, and actors Dax Carrington, Lena Headey, Frieda Pinto, Phoebe Tonkin, Marcia Cross, and Julianne Hough.

“Summer’s achievements as an athlete, public figure and personally are testaments to her commitment to success when it comes to her passions,” says Dr. Tessie San Martin, President & CEO of Plan International USA. “I’m ecstatic that our shared passion includes striving for a better life for girls and children around the globe. Her support means a great deal to the organization and I, personally, look forward to the great work we’ll accomplish as partners.”

Too often, celebrities use their platforms for personal gain. It’s inspiring to see a respected athlete like Summer Sanders use her platform for social change. Through the partnership, she will magnify Plan’s work around children’s rights and equality for girls, ensuring they achieve their full potential with dignity, opportunity, and safety.

The world of sports–professional or casual–often puts up barriers to entry for women and girls. Organizations like Plan, and representatives like Summer, strike down these barriers one at a time, and level the playing field for everyone.

At their heart, sports are about fun. Important work like this ensures more girls around the world can experience that feeling–through teamwork, camaraderie, and the joy of play.

About Plan International USA: Plan International USA is an independent development and humanitarian organization that advances children’s rights and equality for girls. Plan believes in the power and potential of young people. Working together with children, young people, supporters, and partners, Plan strives for a just world, tackling the root causes of the challenges facing girls and all vulnerable children. For more information, please visit  

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Author: Maggie May

Maggie May is a small business owner, author, and story-centric content strategist. A Maryland transplant by way of Florida, DC, Ireland, Philadelphia, and -- most recently -- Salt Lake City, she has a passion for finding stories and telling them the way they're meant to be told.

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