Allyson Felix Ran Her Final Race with Family By Her Side and the Child Care Crisis On the Agenda

Olympic track and field star Allyson Felix didn’t feel supported in her industry when she gave birth to her daughter. Now, she’s on a mission to take on child care issues in sports and beyond.

Allyson Felix runs with her three-year old daughter, Camryn, at Athleta Presents,The Allyson Felix Race for Change on Sunday, August 7, 2022 in Los Angeles
Photo: Brandon Flint

Allyson Felix wanted her final race to be on the streets of Los Angeles, where she grew up with her minister father, elementary school teacher mother, and older brother. The Olympic gold medalist got her wish when she raced on a 100-meter track in downtown Los Angeles with her family by her side earlier this month.

The Allyson Felix Race for a Change, presented by activewear brand Athleta, marked Felix's goodbye to track and field. It also highlighted her continuing work to advocate for better child care policies for athletes and all parents. The race was more of an event, and it showed just how committed Felix is to walking the walk.

The event began with Felix racing down the track with her 3-year-old daughter Cammy. Cammy held tightly to her mom's hand and smiled at lookers-on before more children, parents, and pregnant people took to the track in separate races. The outdoor space wasn't all business. Athleta-sponsored tents shielded attendees from the 90-degrees sun while they made stamped metal jewelry, rested on cushions and pillows in designated areas, tried on shoes by Felix's line Saysh, and participated in other wellness activities.

Between sips of water, chats with family, and interviews, Felix embraced the number of children who came up to say "hi" or take a photo. The children, though often literally interrupting conversations or professional obligations, were not an interruption—they were welcomed. It was as if Felix seamlessly wove their presence into the natural order of the event. The event offered safe, professional, free child care on location for children whose parents couldn't or didn't want to have them on race grounds.

"It was really my goal this year to be able to offer child care for parents," Allyson Felix said in an on-location interview with Kindred by Parents. And it was a model—an idealistic model for a world, or a workplace, where working parents, especially moms, don't have to choose between work and parenting. They can do both with the right support, something Felix didn't always have in her own industry.

"When Cammy was 8 months old, I started traveling, competing again, and it was just so hard. I felt like this feels impossible. And so many women go through this on all different levels in all different industries," she said. "So to be able to offer free childcare this year, it was something that was really important. I want it to be the standard, and it's going to take a lot of work to get there."

Kyle Andrew, the chief brand officer at Athleta, supports Felix in her mission to show 'em how it's done when it comes to micro-level solutions to the child care crisis. "Athleta's purpose is to break barriers for women so they can take care of themselves—whether that means starting a family while excelling in their career, or even just finding more time in their day," said Andrew. "Child care is a significant barrier that many women face, and we've made it our goal to show the world there are solutions to help women by creating access to resources and opportunity."

Felix is focused on the sports industry to start. Earlier this summer, Felix partnered with &Mother to provide free child care at select track and field events. "Our work won't stop here," said Andrew. "We, and Allyson, are committed to this effort and advocating for women and moms on and off the track."

Besides workplace support, Felix relies on her village, her family, to make it all possible. "You absolutely need your village, whatever that looks like in your family. [For me], that's my husband," she said. "He stays home with Camryn. It's been incredible for our family. It's knowing that I can go after every dream that I have, and I don't have to sacrifice any of that. And I don't have to be any less of a mom. I can be present at home and I can do both."

While Felix laughs, seriously noting that work-life balance for moms in particular is not totally a thing, she believes in the power of being a strong Black woman. That is, after all, in her ancestry. Her mom, who was always in not too far proximity from her daughter during the event, set the example.

"I don't know how mom did it. How did she have a meal on the table? She worked full time. She was fully present in our lives," said Felix. "She did all that, and I just don't really understand how. Just seeing a strong Black woman in my life—just that heritage—I think that prepared me for the strength that I didn't even know that I needed. That does help me on some days where I'm like, 'OK, well, I know these people they came before me they've been doing this, so I can find a way.'"

Find a way she does. With her village—her mom, husband, brother, daughter, and a crew who proudly smiled at the mere mention of her name—in attendance, Felix and her humble spirit subtly showed workplace leaders in the U.S. how you do it when you actively want to support better child care for working parents.

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