One afternoon we drove a short distance and found a place to stand along the street with hundreds of others. With my flag by my side, we cheered as the torch ran by. My parents were lucky enough to have tickets to the opening ceremonies. We watched from home with my aunt, uncle and cousin. The pastel colors throughout the stadium expressed the early 80’s in a way that words could not. The “theme music” was composed by John Williams and added a bit of Hollywood to the ceremony. Throughout the two weeks we watched on TV and experienced the buzz throughout the city. We learned about countries we had never heard of (and had to look them up in an atlas to find out where they were). We were lucky enough to have tickets a new sport debuting in the games, synchronized swimming. It was the summer of Flo Jo, Carl Lewis and of course, Mary Lou Retton. After that summer, I wanted to work for the Olympic Committee. I didn’t know what kind of job I would have or what I needed to do to make it happen, but I thought that working on a sporting event that brought people together from across the globe sounded like a pretty cool job to have.
My parents never discouraged me from dreaming this big dream, even though deep down they probably knew it was a long shot. I studied languages and learned about other countries and cultures. Along the way, I was exposed to so many new ideas and opportunities. I had to make choices because it just wasn’t possible to follow them all. Though I never worked for the Olympic Committee, it did spark in me an interest that led me to a degree in International Business, a job where I travelled throughout Europe and an appreciation for cultures throughout the world.
Thinking about it now, that’s really what the Olympics is about isn’t it? You have a dream and then do whatever you can to work towards that dream. Some people set their sights on one thing and drive towards that from start to finish. While others start with one dream and then adjust their course along the way. Each path will have their choices that need to be made, their challenges, their setbacks, their accomplishments and their perceived failures. No one way is right or wrong. What’s your dream? Who inspires you? How can you inspire someone else?