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Reebok plans $30m gift to aid youth fitness

Canton company aims to help curb childhood obesity with donation to nonprofit

New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning was expected to join Reebok’s announcement event on Friday in Washington.

New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning was expected to join Reebok’s announcement event on Friday in Washington.

The Eli Manning appearance may make local football fans wince, but no one is likely to root against the cause he’s supporting.

Reebok International Ltd., the Canton maker of athletic shoes and apparel, is expected to say Friday it will donate $30 million during the next three years to partner with a nonprofit working to “solve the child obesity crisis.” The agreement with a Partnership for a Healthier America, will be unveiled in Washington, D.C. — where the group is based — at an event attended by first lady Michelle Obama, who is the organization’s honorary chair. Manning, the New York Giants quarterback and New England Patriots nemesis, will also participate.

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“We’re offering an opportunity for companies to do good and do well at the same time,” said Larry Soler, chief executive of Partnership for a Healthier America. “Our work is not just to promote a philanthropic effort, but is good business for companies.”

A portion of Reebok’s donation — $2 million a year — is earmarked for the company’s nonprofit outpost, BOKS, which stands for Build Our Kids’ Success. The money will be used to expand Reebok’s early-morning youth fitness program to more than 1,000 schools across the country. The BOKS program already is in about 200 schools, including 104 in Massachusetts. The rest of Reebok’s donations will fund fitness initiatives for children approved by the Healthier America group.

“Obesity is an issue that profoundly affects our country as a whole,” said Kathleen Tullie, who founded BOKS in 2010 through the Reebok Foundation. “We’ve reached the tipping point where all these companies are realizing it’s in everybody’s best interest, including businesses’, to have a healthy community behind a healthy economy.”

Nike Inc., a Reebok competitor, also recently made a five-year donation of $50 million to Partnership for a Healthier America.

Alyssa Edes can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @alyssaedes.
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