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COLUMN: Olympians come from families like ours

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By Shannon Brock

As Sunday night came to a close, my heart grew a little sad. The 2012 Olympics were over, and now we have to wait another four years to witness the type of greatness we got to see daily for two weeks.
These athletes, from all over the globe, are truly world-class, some might even say they’re heroic, but I contend that what makes them so great — well, most of them — is that they’re human.
Though I take nothing away from the gold medals of the men and women’s basketball teams, I say, at least for now, remove them from this discussion. Yes, they’re all human, but they’re far less everyday folk than the likes of Ryan Lochte, Missy Franklin, Tyson Gay and Gabby Douglas.
These extraordinary, ordinary people performed feats far greater, athletically, than just about anyone I know, but at least two story lines that came about during the 30th Olympiad revealed the human side to the athletes that we’ve come to know and love.
Somewhere in the middle of all of the competitions, the news broke that Ryan Lochte’s parents, who are now divorced, were facing foreclosure on their home back here in the states.
A few days later, after being criticized for her “unkempt” hair (give me a break), someone broke the news that Gabby Douglas’s mother had filed for bankruptcy.
Some newspapers, websites and TV stations chose to take the angle that these families had “gone broke” helping their children fulfill their Olympic dreams, and there’s probably a lot of truth to that.
However, I choose to look at it another way — though Ryan and Gabby now stand with gold medals around their necks, before London, their families were just like ours.
Although now the hope is that Ryan and Gabby will both be able to make enough through endorsement deals that their families’ credit histories are soon forgotten, it’s important to take note that even Olympic families struggle.
Don’t you think that for every person who gasped in disbelief that the Lochtes and Natalie Hawkins had financial struggles, another three people were right there shaking their heads affirmatively thinking, “I hear you, I’ve been there” or “I’m there right now.”
No, it’s not a thing to celebrate, but it’s relatable and inspirational. Life wasn’t always easy or kind to these American role models, but knowing that, didn’t you want to cheer that much louder or clap that much harder? Didn’t seeing these athletes overcome and triumph give you the hope that one day you or your family members will do the same?
These days, I think we can all use a little extra hope.

Thank you, thank you!
I want to extend a huge thanks to those of you who entered and voted in our Pet Idol contest. I believe we had a record 43 entries and raised over $2,000 for our Newspapers in Education program. Our congratulations go out to the families of Buffy, Precious Lynn, Buster, Billy Clyde and Duke. You will all be contacted within the next few days and notified of your prizes.
If you didn’t get a chance to participate in the contest, but would still like to donate to our NIE program, give us a call. The contest may be over, but your support is needed throughout the year to put newspapers in Spencer County classrooms.
Thanks, again, and congratulations to all our furry friends.