Photo by Stephen Dunlap Photography. Image source:
LaRita Laktonen-Ward hopes to become the first Alaska Native woman to win Natural Olympia. Photo by Stephen Dunlap Photography. Image source:

Alaska Native Bodybuilder Seeks to Be First to Win Natural Olympia Title


An accomplished Alaska Native bodybuilder has qualified for the Professional Natural Bodybuilding Association's "Natural Olympia XVII" competition in San Diego, and she's reaching out for the necessary expenses she will incur. 

On a Kickstarter page titled "Making History With LaRita Laktonen-Ward," she writes,

Due to limited time and intensive training I have not had the resources to find sponsors. Some of my expenses include travel costs, airfare or driving, hotel, tanning, competition suits, hair and make up, food and supplements, to name a few. As my success grows, I am looking for financial help from my friends, family and community supporters to reach my goal: to become the first Alaska Native woman to win Natural Olympia.

Laktonen-Ward is a wife and mother (her husband will be competing in the same event), and her experience will ring true for many Alaska Natives. Moreover, her story of athletic, educational, and professional success is an inspiring one:

Originally from Kodiak, Alaska, my family is from the Native village of Larsen Bay where I grew up subsistence hunting, fishing, and crabbing and the summers commercial fishing for salmon. I am thankful for the natural beauty that I was surrounded with, and the hard work ethic I gained. I was raised in a cabin with no electricity and no running water until grade school years.  This experience and my family have shaped me into who I am today.

I left Alaska and moved straight to California in 1995 and played a power forward on the College of the Redwoods basketball team. I then attend Humboldt State University, Arcata, CA, where I chose to major in Kinesiology with a minor in American Indian Education. One of the best things I did was to join the Indian Teacher and Education Personnel Program where I got to study the educational history of Alaska Natives and American Indian people. I embraced celebrating the beauty of our history and culture and being a modern day role model for youth.

Natural Olympia XVII takes place this weekend, but Laktonen-Ward is accepting sponsorship funds through November 27. Here are some photos of Larita and her supporters from the Facebook page of her personal training business, Tru Life Fitness:


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