I am not known for my strength in public speaking but last week I was asked to address the Rocky River City Council at their public meeting in City Hall.
When I started sailing at the Cleveland Yachting Club, I never imagined that one day I would be standing in front of the city leaders talking about my efforts to go to the Olympics in this sport, but here I am, and I have loved every minute of my journey!
Growing up in the City of Rocky River it is easy to take a lot for granted. We have low crime, great schools, tons of sports and recreational activities, the Metroparks, Lake Erie beaches, friendly and active neighbors and City leadership that keeps it all running smoothly. Heck, the city doesn’t even want us citizens to be burdened with trash blowing down the streets on those gusty winter days so they pick up our garbage from our garages! It doesn’t get much more cohesive than that, does it?
Rocky River was great to grow up in because of that and so many other things. I honestly think the best part of living in our city is that each and every family that lives here is more like family than they are people that happen to live in the same community. Sure, we have our strifes and disagreements, but overall people that live in Rocky River know that we are a strong-knit community that is here for one another. We watch each others homes…neighbors that are retired or work out of their homes keep an eye out on their block, letting pets in and out, watching teenage “activities” so they don’t get our of control, making sure that service people that walk up to others houses are supposed to be there and taking care of neighbors with young or who are elderly. Our city really is more of a family than a community…
When I was asked to address City Council by Councilman Chris Klem and Mayor Pam Bobst, I was not sure what would happen, what they would ask, or what I should say. I was called to the podium by a casual and pleasant group of adults who are charged with running our city and asked to talk about my efforts to bring Olympic Gold home to Rocky River, Ohio.
I explained that it was the accessibility to Lake Erie at the age of 8 that got me involved in competitive sailing, and how Lake Erie, our schools and the community overall that kept me focused on sailing, racing and winning in a worldwide competitive sport. I mean, have you been down to Rocky River park, or to the overlook on a Sunday morning when all the boats from CYC are out racing just offshore? All those boats with their colorful spinnakers and the spirited and jovial conversations between boat as they are on their way back into the river after racing…Who in Rocky River doesn’t at least dream about being out on one of those boats at one point in their life?
I have raced my sailboats all around the globe. From California to Road Island, Miami to Vancouver and everywhere in between. I have sailed all over Europe, the Middle East, Asia, South America and even in the shadows of Cedar Point on Sandusky Bay, but when I get the opportunity to come home to Rocky River I am always reminded at why I fell in love with the sport of sailing and why I dream about being able to continue to sail here throughout my entire life! Rocky River is a great place to live and a wonderful place to enjoy everything that Lake Erie has to offer.
I am actively training to win the single spot on the US Olympic Sailing Team for the 2016 Games in Rio. In reality, I am not just training to win the US Olympic Trials, I am training to be the best in the world and to bring home Olympic Gold to Rocky River when I return from Rio in the summer of 2016. I will be 19 years old and will have taken a year between highschool and college to focus my efforts exclusively on training for this single goal. My training is full-time and year-round. I train 6 days each week in the US Sailing Team Training Center in Coconut Grove, Florida, spend 6-8 hours a day on the water of the Atlantic Ocean training with world-class coaches and I spend several hours a day working on schoolwork. I know my grades are important and education will be vital in my career, so my 3.8 GPA with honors and AP classes take their toll on my sleeping patterns during the school year. I also need to spend 2+ hours each and every day fundraising for my campaign. Expenses like coaching, travel, equipment and training overall are are beyond expensive…and every dollar comes from contributions of individuals and corporations alike who make it possible for me to work towards my goal of presenting the City Council with my Olympic Gold Medal when I come home from Rio in 2016…only days before I head off to start my college career and finding out what the rest of my life will shape out to become challenging and exciting for my future. No matter where I end up in life, this will always be home to me. It will forever be the place I come back to to find friends, family and everything I find great about life.
My meeting with the City Council and in conversations with our leaders following the meeting reinforced why I have always known that no matter where in the world I am training or studying or simply exploring, that Rocky River will always be calling me home. The relaxed, friendly and inviting leaders of our community definitely set the tone for a city that lives and functions more like a family than a community. I am grateful for the time and exposure that the City of Rocky River has given to me and I will be proud to admit that the financial support of the city, it’s families and businesses that are what will make it possible for Olympic Gold from the Rio Games to be part of Rocky River when I return.
Please consider supporting my campaign with a donation of $25, $250 or even $2500. Every dollar helps me to train, compete and will get me closer to winning Gold in Rio! Thank you for your financial backing and for believing in me!
If you want me to come talk to your group, class, family or child in Rocky River or anywhere about turning dreams into goals and working to accomplish everything in life, please feel free to call or email me any time!