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Joey Cheek's Medal and Heart of Gold
A leader is certainly someone that sets her or his own course. A leader also inspires and empowers others to follow. Joey Cheek, recent Gold Medal winner at the Turin games fits the description. As reported by NPR:
Joey Cheek.jpg
“American speed skater Joey Cheek did something very unusual after winning the 500 meter race at the Winter Olympics. He announced he's contributing his $25,000 gold medal award from the U.S. Olympic Committee to refugees from Darfur. And he urged Olympic sponsors to support the same relief effort.”

Come to find out, Joey was inspired to do so by another leader and Olympic speedskating champion.

“Cheek is following in the long strides of Johann Olav Koss, the Norwegian speedskater who won three gold medals at the 1994 Games in Lillehammer. Koss, who is now a physician, donated much of his Olympic bonus money to children who were victims of the fighting in Sarajevo. The Bosnian capital was the host city of the 1984 Winter Olympics. Koss went on to start a humanitarian effort called Right to Play, which seeks to provide a bit of normal childhood -- games and sports equipment, visits from athletes -- to kids living in refugee camps.”

Cheek drew inspiration from Koss, in his sport and in life. "I thought maybe I could walk a little in his rather large shoes,'' said Cheek.  He met Koss a few days ago.

Koss demonstrated that importance in life neither ends nor begins with the Olympics. Cheek hopes to inspire also. He said, “tomorrow there is another gold medalist, and the day after there is another gold medalist. So if they do what I do, who knows what is going to happen.”

Exactly. Who knows? I am sure Joey Cheek has already inspired thousands. In a world and media dominated by the likes of Terrell Owens and other egoist superstars, I appreciate Johann Olav Koss and Joey Cheek.

Photo found on NBCOlymics.  Hat tip to a few bloggers out there that kept this story going  Aimlessly Wandering and Random Ravings.

9 Comments/Trackbacks

Thanks for the article, Hal. It seems that success frequently breeds egoism. It is refreshing to see someone burst on the scene, deserving of international attention because of his accomplishments, and yet turn that attention to help some of our fellow human beings who are suffering. Thank you for putting some focus on this wonderful story and significant leadership principle.

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Someone visited my blog, Choosing Hope, because they did a Yahoo search for [joey cheek gold medal speech]. Doing that search returns your blog first, so I came here to see if you did indeed have the full text of Cheek's comments. When I heard this story, I had to post about it, and I was looking for such a full transcript when I went to post, but couldn't find them. None here either, but glad to find a kindred spirit.

Amazing story, amazing example. Funny I did not hear much about it on NBC. I guess they are busy following around Katie Couric and Al.

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