Nearly 7,000 athletes from around the world are returning home with medals and memories after the eight days of Gay Games 9 concluded this past Saturday in Cleveland. Two of those athletes were Russians Julia Pobehailo (badminton) and Slava Pikalov (volleyball), recipients of scholarships to attend the games as provided by HRC and Team DC after a Sochi Olympics opening watch event this past February. Pictured is athlete Pobehailo with Les Johnson of Team DC and Tommy Lodge of the Human Rights Campaign at a Cleveland reception in their honor.

On the last day of the Games, over 400 runners ran the Marathon & Half-Marathon in Akron. With a bright and early call time of 6 a.m., all athletes pushed themselves and learned about the work of HRC and Athletes for Equality.  Local HRC Steering Committee members and national staff both were thrilled to present medals to winners in all age brackets.

Gay Games NineAll told, HRC held thousands of conversations and signed up nearly 1,500 new members to help further HRC's work domestically and abroad.

The next games are set for Paris in 2018. For more information on HRC's Athletes for Equality, please visit

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