On July 9, ThinkProgress launched a petition to get Olympic-bound weightlifter Sarah Robles a sponsorship. One week later, Solve Media, an Internet advertising company, has risen to the challenge, announcing their new partnership with Robles today.
Solve Media CEO Ari Jacoby was inspired by the ThinkProgress campaign to sponsor the 23-year-old weightlifter.
“It wasn’t the first time I had heard of her, but for me it was the first time I understood her sacrifice and what she was doing to achieve her dreams,” Jacoby said in a phone interview. “It really hit home for me. The article caused me to reach out to her.”
Robles, the highest ranked weightlifter in the U.S., has been living on just $400 a month from U.S.A. Weightlifting. Her sport has never attracted many commercial sponsorships; as Robles astutely pointed out, “You can get that sponsorship if you’re a super-built guy or a girl who looks good in a bikini. But not if you’re a girl who’s built like a guy.”
Robles’ dedication to her sport at whatever cost deeply impressed Jacoby. “It pained me to see someone at the top of her game working for what amounts to a few hundred dollars a month,” he said. “She’s the very best of the best, poised to end a 12-year medal drought in her sport. And she’s living this way because it’s her ultimate dream to represent her country and achieve greatness in the sport that she loves.”
Solve Media also decided to sponsor archer Brady Ellison after speaking with Robles. They will do videos, in person meet and greets, and other multimedia projects once they return from London. Robles, already a prolific blogger, will be getting a new Solve Media-designed blog.
Jacoby emphasized that he feels a responsibility to set an example for other companies:
It’s our responsibility in the advertising tech community to get the word out that we can all do well in business by doing the right thing. Solve works with hundreds of companies in the Fortune 1000, and we want to be able to do things for others. This is certainly not charity of any sort. It’s the kind of partnership that we think makes a difference.
Robles leaves for the London Games on Wednesday.