As I write this I am pretty much beside myself because I just met Apolo Ohno!!! I have been a fan of his for so long! I’m serious...ask my friends and relatives. I never stop talking about him, so when I found out he was coming to Bakersfield to promote his book, “Zero Regrets” I tried to remain calm, but I was a mess inside. I love sports, so I can only relate those feelings to the excitement I get when I am competing or when I watch Apolo dominate in the Olympics!!! I love the Olympics and so does my mom. We sit glued to the television and take it all in. Sometimes it’s almost too much for me, so I keep myself busy with art during the games. I have taken Olympic newspaper clippings and scrapbooked them, I have made keychains with Olympic quotes, and this last year I made a giant poster for my classroom. Yup, that’s right...my sixth grade class last year had a huge poster on display for Open House with the Olympic rings and Pierre de Coubertin’s saying, ”The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.” I hope they carry that message with them as they continue their journey to “be greater than yesterday!” The Olympic rings were made out of my students‘ hands and, “We had an Olympic year” was added to tie it all together. If they weren’t sure exactly what the Olympics is all about or who Apolo is, they definitely knew by the end of that year.
As I take in all that just happened, I am humbled. I wouldn’t have found out about this event if it wasn’t for my mom’s friend (see...even she knows I am such a huge fan) who filled us in. I wouldn’t have been able to help Apolo and his team with the signing if it wasn’t for Thomas and the Russo's staff. I wouldn’t have gotten a picture with Apolo if it wasn’t for his team letting me take a quick picture at the end. I wouldn't have gotten to meet so many great people today, who were just as excited to see Apolo and I am so grateful that I got to experience this with them. I wouldn’t have painted a rock for Apolo if my mom hadn’t kept encouraging me the night before...even after some of the lettering smeared and I had to quickly touch it up this morning. But, most importantly, none of this would have happened if Apolo wasn’t such a genuine person. It has been my dream to meet Apolo and I am so thankful he took the time to come visit Bakersfield and that he is so personable! I will always carry the memory of my dad taking a picture of my mom and I before we set out to met one our favorite Olympic athletes!