SALT LAKE CITY, – U.S. Olympic Team ring licensee O.C. Tanner and the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) announced today the winners of the O.C. Tanner Inspiration Award, a 14k gold commemorative ring to honor Paralympic mentors. Alpine skiers Stephani Victor and Alana Nichols, 2010 Paralympic Winter Games gold medalists, and wheelchair curler James Joseph will now have the opportunity to honor those who inspired them along their Paralympic journeys.
As part of the nine athlete tributes posted to Facebook, Nichols expressed appreciation for her grandmother who literally pushed her through recovery in a wheelchair after a paralyzing snowboarding accident, while Joseph described a sports program director who helped him discover meaning in life after having to amputate both of his legs. Victor’s tribute – which is to her coach and husband who taught her how to ski after losing her legs in a car accident – was chosen as the most inspirational story on O.C. Tanner’s Facebook page.
“In Marcel’s presence, I was immediately filled with his passion for skiing and life,” Victor said. “I will never forget our first chairlift ride together. He explained his ‘more ability’ philosophy and I knew this man saw me for the person I am and not for what had happened to me. He encouraged me to believe in myself and strive for excellence in all areas of my life.”
Nodding to the influence of mentors of Olympic athletes in ancient Greece, the Inspiration Award features a laurel crown and the words “Inspire, Olympian and Mentor” in Greek. The memento will serve to spread appreciation and acknowledgement to those who will likely never receive medals of their own, but who made it possible for someone else.
“Behind every Paralympic dream there are family members, friends, coaches and others who inspire and support our athletes,” said Charlie Huebner, Chief of Paralympics for the USOC. “These mentors have changed lives and they deserve tremendous honor and celebration. We appreciate O.C. Tanner creating this award and giving our athletes such a meaningful way to recognize those who have helped them succeed.”
While three U.S. Paralympians have been awarded the opportunity to present the O.C. Tanner Inspiration Award to their honorees, the public can continue to read, share and comment on athlete stories at http:// www.facebook.com/octanner.appreciation.