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US Sailing Foundation announces the first ever Kevin Burnham Memorial Award

by US Sailing 3 Dec 2021 09:14 PST
Paul Foerster & Kevin Burnham celebrate winning gold at the Athens 2004 Olympic regatta © Richard Langdon

The US Sailing Foundation has announced an award to honor Athens 2004 Olympic Gold Medalist Kevin Burnham, open to sailors who compete or previously competed in Olympic classes and/or the Olympic Development Program.

In loving memory of the accomplished sailor and friend to many, his wife, Elizabeth Kratzig, children, Edward and Kyla Burnham, and lifelong friend, Steve Benjamin, established the Kevin Burnham Memorial Award and Endowment Fund to carry on Kevin's memory and mission.

The Kevin Burnham Memorial Award will be given annually to a competitor (or team of competitors) who best exemplifies Kevin's spirit and embodies these characteristics: passion, perseverance, persistence, sportsmanship on and off the water, love of the sport and love of his/her competitors. Award recipients' names will appear on a perpetual plaque displayed beside the Olympic Torch that Kevin carried in the 1996 Games, located at the US Sailing headquarters in Bristol, RI. Nominations are now open for the first annual award, which will be presented in the Spring of 2022.

In addition, The Kevin Burnham Memorial Endowment Fund, set up under the umbrella of the US Sailing Foundation and Project Pinnacle, will be used to provide annual Grants to youth, age 31 and under, who demonstrate outstanding competitive sailing potential, display an infectious enthusiasm, and compete in two-person Olympic class or Olympic Development class trapeze boats. Grants will be awarded yearly beginning in 2022. Eventually, the family hopes that funds grow large enough to endow a US Sailing coaching position in Kevin's name.

Chair of The US Sailing Foundation Board of Directors, Bill Ruh, notes that "Kevin's accomplishments as a sailor are extraordinary and his Olympic spirit is iconic. His passion for coaching and teaching sailing coupled with his perseverance in pursuit of his goals are legendary. We are honored that Elizabeth chose the Foundation as the permanent home for this honor and for the Olympic Torch that he carried."

When Elizabeth initiated the endowment, she commented "The Kevin Burnham Memorial Endowment Fund presents a huge opportunity for Olympic Development and young Olympic athletes to pursue their dreams. It took Kevin over 25 years to reach his goal of winning a Gold Medal. After Kevin won the Gold, his new goal became passing on his knowledge, passion, and love of the sport to younger sailors. Kevin's legacy lives on with these young sailors and many future generations to come. As we approach the first anniversary of Kevin's passing, I am comforted by the love and support of Kevin and his legacy."

Nominations for the 2022 Award will be accepted electronically or via mail until December 31, 2021. To nominate a candidate for the Kevin Burnham Memorial Award or to join in remembering Kevin with a gift to his fund, please nominate and donate online at or contact Jill Nosach at US Sailing Foundation at .

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