The economic environment has made it tough for events everywhere to find sponsors. Joe Coito, who heads up the Santa Barbara Triathlon scheduled for its 28th annual “swim, bike and run” Aug. 21-23, knows this challenge firsthand. He lost his presenting sponsor this year and had to scramble to find another one.

“Until Montecito Bank & Trust stepped in to rescue this event, I was a bit stressed,” Coito said. “To some degree I’ve been blessed in that 70 percent of my sponsors from last year partnered with us again this year. But an event of this size really needs a presenting sponsor or the money just isn’t there to produce it.

“The presenting sponsorship is a large commitment and typically potential sponsors will sit on finalizing their decision for weeks or months. In fact, three other local companies had been contemplating the presenting sponsorship, but months had dragged on. Montecito Bank & Trust understood that I needed a decision sooner rather than later because it was getting close to the 11th hour. I was pleasantly surprised when they made such a quick decision. They understand the value. I can already see they will make a great partner. They are enthusiastic, ask great questions, and top management is hands-on.”

Janet Garufis, president and CEO of Montecito Bank & Trust, said, “One of the founding principles of our bank is to support the vitality of the communities we serve, not only through banking and lending but also through giving back. We see this presenting sponsorship as an opportunity to support the wellness of our community in so many ways and were delighted to be able to team up with the Santa Barbara Triathlon under Joe Coito’s able leadership to raise money for the Cancer Center of Santa Barbara’s Cancer Well-Fit Program.”

In addition to its financial contribution, Montecito Bank & Trust is also supplying event bags and water bottles to the athletes, an event booth, a surprise inflatable “money” wind booth for kids that will blow fun prizes around inside for the taking, as well as other giveaways for the adults. Many of the bank’s employees have volunteered to help at the event in the registration area, the transition area, aid stations, and to provide other support along the course. Additionally, many of their employees will participate as competitors and spectators.

Coito said that despite the recession, the number of entrants is on target to sell out. “People actually exercise more during stressful times, and this event has a history of selling out.”

The Santa Barbara Triathlon includes three major weekend events. The Santa Barbara Long Course Triathlon on Aug, 22 involving a one-mile ocean swim, 34-mile bike ride and 10-mile run. The Co-Ed Sprint Course on Aug. 23 is open to men and women of all ages. It’s a mini version of the triathlon’s renowned long course with a 500-yard swim, six-mile bike ride and two-mile run. The Women-Only Sprint Course, which mirrors the co-ed course and also includes a parent-child division, is also slated to take place Aug. 23. It marks the fifth year the triathlon will have included this event for women, parents and children of all speeds, goals and experience levels.

The start and finish lines for the triathlon will be at the Cabrillo Bathhouse at East Beach, 1118 Cabrillo Blvd. in Santa Barbara. A Sports Expo will be open to the public.

“We hope people will come out and watch,” Coito said. “It’s great fun.”

For more event information or to inquire about volunteering, click here or call 805.682.1634.

— Jonatha King is a publicist.