Grandfather of 2010 U.S. Olympic Team for Curling member honored by Goodyear

Jan. 20, 2010, 12:39 p.m. (ET)

(STEVENS POINT, Wis.) - Duane "Buzz" Smith, grandfather of 2010 U.S. Olympic Team for Curling member Jason Smith (Cape Coral, Fla.), has been named a medal winner of the Goodyear "Get there" Award, a recognition program designed to honor those most responsible for helping American athletes achieve their dream of competing on the world's greatest stage in Vancouver. The program highlights the often little-known stories of those people who work tirelessly behind the scenes to help America's athletes achieve their goals. As a recipient, Smith will receive a set of "top-of-the-line Goodyear high technology tires" and be recognized nationally by Goodyear.

Smith was selected along with Frances Bradley (Philadelphia), mother of bobsledder Michael Bradley, and Paul Marchese, father of speedskater Trevor Marsicano.

"I really did not do anything that any other parent would not do. I just wanted the best for Jason and his curling mates," Buzz Smith said. "I really enjoyed watching them progress as curlers and men through the years. Thank you, Goodyear, for this honor and recognition."

Jason Smith and teammates John Shuster (Duluth, Minn.), Jeff Isaacson (Gilbert, Minn.), John Benton (St. Michael, Minn.) and Chris Plys (Duluth, Minn.) depart for Vancouver in early February in anticipation for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games curling competition, which gets underway on Feb. 16.

Goodyear's selection panel included World and Olympic Champion Bonnie Blair. The three medal award winners were selected from among 15 individual honorees representing each major winter sport discipline and recognized for their extraordinary efforts to help the athletes excel.

"I'm proud to be able to help shine a light on the incredible dedication and often behind-the-scenes contributions made by parents, coaches, teachers, spouses and others who make it possible for athletes like me to succeed on the world's greatest stage," said Blair, the United States' most decorated Winter Olympian. "The stories of the 15 individuals being recognized with the Goodyear 'Get there' Award, and the hundreds of other people like them, shows just how essential their support and encouragement is in helping athletes achieve their goals."

Buzz Smith has played an instrumental role in the life and development of Jason Smith, having raised his grandson since he was a young child in Minnesota. Buzz was retired by the time Jason turned five years old and was able to dedicate the time necessary to coach Jason in many sports, including youth baseball. But it would turn out that it was Buzz opening the doors of the Chisholm Curling Club after school each day for Jason and his close friend John Shuster to try the sport that would strike a chord in both boys. Both Smith and Shuster credit Buzz's dedication to helping them become better curlers and understand the importance of practicing as a major reason why they made the 2010 curling team. Jason refers to Buzz as his best friend and when his grandfather moved to Florida several years ago from northern Minnesota, Jason soon followed and found a job in construction so he could maintain his friendship with his grandfather. Now in his late 70s, Buzz is still Jason's biggest supporter.

"I am happy that he is getting noticed. I could not thank him enough for all the support throughout the years. Without him I would not be the person I am today or be as successful as I have been in athletics," Jason Smith said.

"Goodyear is committed to developing best-in-class innovations and breakthrough technologies that help consumers reach their destinations ... or 'Get there,'" said Scott Rogers, chief marketing officer, Goodyear. "What better embodiment of that philosophy than to honor those unsung heroes who have helped American athletes 'Get there' to the ultimate athletic stage."

The three medal winners, selected by a Goodyear panel spearheaded by Blair, will be presented with the special Goodyear 'Get there' Award.

"Our panel found it difficult to select just three winners from among the stories we read, as each individual showed an outstanding commitment to helping America's aspiring athletes 'Get there,'" added Rogers. "In addition to honoring the three winners, Goodyear is thanking all 15 honorees for their dedication and outstanding support by helping them 'Get there' with an award of a free set of top-of-the-line Goodyear high technology tires."

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