WINTERSVILLE - Olympic gold medalist Mary Lou Retton told Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce members that with hard work and a positive attitude, anything can happen in athletics as well as daily life.
Retton, the first American woman ever to win Olympic gold in gymnastics in 1984, told the crowd winning Olympic gold six weeks after knee surgery was "one of the most incredible moments of my life."
"It takes the same qualities to become a champion in athletics as it does in life," she said. "There's a tremendous amount of hard work, dedication, determination and believing in yourself and your abilities."
SPEAKER — Olympic gold medalist Mary Lou Retton was the keynote speaker at Monday’s Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce dinner and banquet held at St. Florian Hall in Wintersville. Retton stressed to the crowd to “seize the moment” and noted that extraordinary things can happen “if you rise above your limits, real and imaginary.” -- Mike McElwain
HONORED — Honored for their achievements at the 2012 Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce annual awards dinner were, front, from left, Anita Jackson, ambassador of the year; Barbara Wilinski, lifetime achievement award winner; Sue Adams, co-owner of Market Street Pharmacy, Steubenville; Chamber Chairman John Cucarese; the Rev. Terence Henry, TOR, of Franciscan University of Steubenville, company/organization of the year; Ed Rice of Signs Limited, businessperson of the year; and Mike Adams, co-owner of Market Street Pharmacy, Steubenville. -- Mike McElwain
Monday's banquet, held at St. Florian Hall, celebrated the chamber's growth and member achievements over the past year. Singled out for their contributions to the chamber's success were Anita Jackson, ambassador of the year; Market Street Pharmacy, owned by Mike and Sue Adams, new business of the year; Franciscan University of Steubenville, company/organization of the year; Signs Limited, owned by Ed Rice, chamber businessperson of the year; and Barbara Wilinski, lifetime achievement award.
Retton told the crowd to "seize the moment."
"Take that door of opportunity when you see it," said Retton, a native of Fairmont, W.Va. "You never know when you'll be looking it in the face. But when you see it, don't be afraid - you've got to seize it."
In addition to her Olympic achievements, Retton is also the only woman to win three American Cups (1983-85), the only American to win Japan's prestigious Chunichi Cup (1983) and two U.S. Gymnastics Federation American Classics titles (1983-84). She retired from competitive gymnastics in 1986, since serving as a motivational speaker and corporate spokesperson. She also travels the world as a "fitness ambassador" promoting the benefits of proper nutrition and regular exercise.
She serves as national chairperson and sits on the board of governors of the Children's Miracle Network. She was a commentator for NBC's coverage of the 1988 Olympic Games and wrote a daily column for USA Today at the 1992 and 1996 Olympics and served as on-air reporter for Gannett Broadcasting's NBC affiliates at the 1996 games in Atlanta.
Retton, who recently moved to Texas with her husband, Shannon Kelley, and four daughters ages 17, 15, 12 and 10, said nothing is impossible if you want it bad enough.
"You can do extraordinary things if you rise above your limits, real and imaginary," said Retton, who also earned silver medals at the 1984 Olympics in team and vault, and bronze medals in uneven bars and floor exercises. "You can always avoid taking risks and meeting challenges ... but sometimes, it's the only way to make your dreams come true. It certainly was in my case."
Earlier, Retton said she's tried to teach her daughters that if they want something bad enough, if they're willing to work hard enough, they can get it.
"I tell them if they dig deeply, if they have the passion and they work hard, they can do it," she said. "There are going to be challenges and setbacks, but those are the times you have to dig deep."
She said most Americans remember her on the medal stand, at the pinnacle of her Olympic success, "but they don't realize the struggles that took place for me to get there," she aid. "You have to overcome the adversity."
During the dinner, special recognition was given to Jim Morgan, the immediate past chair, and board members who had completed their terms.
Sue Hershey, chamber president, also reminded attendees about Monday's seminar, "Benefiting from the Boom: Your Business and Shale," which will be held at the Steubenville County Club, and the inaugural speaker in the chamber's concert and lecture series, which will be held Nov. 14. That event will feature Clint Hill, who was the Secret Service agent in charge of first lady Jacqueline Kennedy's detail. Hill, who wrote the best-selling book "Mrs. Kennedy and Me," and his co-author, Lisa McCubbin, will deliver a multi-media presentation in the Steubenville High School auditorium. Reserved seat tickets for the event are available for $20 and general admission tickets are available for $15 at the chamber office, 630 Market St., Steubenville; by calling (740) 282-6226; or at the Herald-Star, 401 Herald Square, Steubenville. A limited number of VIP packages are available for the event.
(Harris can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)