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‘Ironman’ competes to raise funds for Habitat for Humanity

Million-dollar ‘Ironman’ competes for pledges to support Habitat for Humanity’s Jimmy Carter Work Project 2005

AMERICUS, Ga. (April 5, 2005) — Craig Van Ess, a mild-mannered tax attorney by day, and a triathlete by evening and weekend, has set a goal to raise $1 million for Habitat for Humanity to build homes in Michigan during the Jimmy Carter Work Project 2005.

Van Ess, of Grand Rapids, Mich., one of the cities that will be building during the June work project, hopes to raise pledges of $1 million before his Ironman competition in Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho, on June 26. Collected pledges will help build homes during the work Project, June 19–24.

Competing as a triathlete for more than a decade, Van Ess has entered seven Ironman events. For each event, he’s asked for pledges from 500 sponsors and has raised $370,000 for Habitat to build nine homes in Grand Rapids.

“I decided that if I was going to keep competing, I would attempt to turn what is somewhat of a selfish activity into something that is more selfless by raising money for a good cause,” said Van Ess, who trains every week to stay in shape.

While competing in the 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and 26.2-mile run in an Ironman competition, Van Ess said that it’s the thought of helping families with Habitat that keeps him going.

Van Ess is a tax attorney with Fifth Third Bank and lives with his wife, Alice, and daughters Katerina and Olivia.

Donations or pledges can be sent to Habitat for Humanity of Kent County, Attn. Triathlete Pledge, 539 New Avenue SW, Grand Rapids, MI, 49503, or online at or at his personal website,

About Habitat for Humanity International
Habitat for Humanity International, based in Americus, Ga., is an ecumenical Christian ministry dedicated to eliminating poverty housing. By the end of 2005, Habitat will have built its 200,000th house and more than one million people will be living in Habitat homes they helped build and are buying through no-profit, zero-interest mortgages.