ST. GEORGE — In connection with Ironman 70.3 taking place in St. George on Saturday, family and friends of the late Braydon Nielsen started the Booyah Foundation to benefit those who lost loved ones killed while cycling.
Melissa Nielsen, wife of Braydon, joined forces with Braydon’s triathlon teammates to form the Booyah Foundation, which has a two-fold mission. The foundation not only aims to help families affected by cycling tragedies, but it also hopes to inspire other athletes to accomplish their goals just as Braydon chased after his athletic dreams.
Braydon died in a cycling accident in September 2013 when he was hit by a van near the St. George Municipal Airport. His triathlon teammates and friends wanted to honor his memory because of his loving and happy nature.
“Braydon did pick a lot of people up,” Melissa Nielsen said. “It was amazing at his funeral because so many people showed up, and I didn’t realize he had touched so many people. So to carry on his legacy and to inspire people and to help other people out is going to be a really cool thing.”
The Booyah Foundation will have a tent at the Ironman 70.3 Village on Thursday and Friday at Town Square where people can visit and learn more. The foundation accepts donations, and it also has merchandise for sale featuring the Booyah Foundation logo.
“One of the things in the future that we’re wanting to do is hopefully have athletes race for the cause and raise money through our charity for that cause,” said Lyle Anderson, a former triathlon teammate and friend of Braydon Nielsen.
Right now, the Booyah Foundation is helping a family that recently lost its father in a triathlon training accident. The father was going to compete in the New Orleans Ironman.
“He left behind three triplet daughters, and then his wife was a school teacher,” Melissa Nielsen said. “So it kind of fits our mold where I’m a school teacher, too. We want to raise however much money for them — $1,000 or whatever — and then from there we’ll find other people to help out.”
Melissa Nielsen and the former triathlon teammates will be featured in a special television program presented by AtoZion.com, St. George Zion National Park Convention and Tourism, that will air during the broadcast of the St. George Ironman 70.3. They were filmed in St. George Ironman locations such as Sand Hollow Reservoir and Snow Canyon State Park. They’ll talk about Braydon Nielsen and the Booyah Foundation during the broadcast.
“(Braydon) was a one-of-a-kind person,” said Bryce Jones, another former triathlon teammate and friend of Braydon Nielsen. “It’s been said before that Braydon was everybody’s best friend. He always had a way of pretending like you were the only person (that mattered) while talking. Everyone that met him felt that he was a genuinely loving person.”
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