Mike Richter, a former National Hockey League goalie, helped lead the N.Y. Rangers to the Stanley Cup and the U.S. Olympic hockey team to a silver medal. Now he hopes to lead his teammates and other athletes toward a greener life with his new organization, Athletes for a Healthy Planet. The group gathers athletes from around the country dedicated to promoting a cleaner, healthier environment.

Richter, a father of three young sons, says the impact of environmental change really hit home when he realized that the frozen hockey ponds of his childhood had disappeared. Sports born in the outdoors now routinely are played indoors.

“No one has a greater stake in a cleaner, healthier planet than athletes,” said Richter. “But the state of our planet affects everyone, rich or poor, liberal or conservative. It is in everyone's interest to understand the magnitude of the challenges and to work towards solutions. This is perhaps the defining issue of our time.”

Richter said Athletes for a Healthy Planet will capitalize on the celebrity status of athletes to serve as positive role models in “a nationwide effort to promote greater understanding of the direct relationship between the health of the planet and our health, economy, jobs, national security, social justice and quality of life.”

Also on MNN: