“Fight On! Celebrating our Olympic Trojan Spirit” is a SCplasy SCuccess!
On March 12, we held our annual benefit, “Fight On! Celebrating Our Olympic Trojan Spirit,” featuring our USC Olympic Athletes and honoring the Swim with Mike Physically Challenged Athletes Scholarship Fund. After a visit from that elusive El Nino during the days preceding the event, our guests were greeted by a spectacular, sunny and quintessential California day at the USC Uytengsu Aquatic Center, once again, proving that God is a Trojan! Those celebrating on this early spring day at our very own TLLA ultimate pool party were 200 members and their guests, including several Olympic medalists, Olympic athletes, USC Olympic Coaches and a number of Swim with Mike Scholarship Recipients.
As guests arrived, they witnessed our USC Olympic Swim Team athletes, training and exhibiting their aquatic prowess in the pool, as well as on the diving board platforms. USA Swimming Coach, Dave Salo, provided outstanding commentary as we observed their splashy exhibitions. Then the gates swung open and the USC Trojan Marching Band with the USC Song Girls, Olympic Team athletes, medalists and Swim with Mike recipients processed in, “Olympic Opening Ceremonies-style”, to clapping and cheering from the crowds. In true carnival spirit, guests of all ages enjoyed participating in the numerous activities offered during the day. There were Swim Clinics coached by two Olympic Gold Medalists, Lenny Krayzelburg and Kaitlyn Sandeno. Whether headed for a life of competitive swimming or just mastering the kickboard, fun was had by all the kids. The Song Girls hosted a clinic, complete with pom poms and a rousing routine, for the young and young at heart to burn some calories, while the Helenes manned the arts and crafts table with face painting and a “make an Olympic medal” project.
TLLA was honored to have one of the greatest swimmers of all time as our emcee. Bruce Furniss, a two-time Olympic Gold Medalist, World Record holder, and USC Alumni, regaled the crowds with charm and finesse. He toasted TLLA and congratulated Swim with Mike on their 36th year! Steve Furniss, Olympic medalist and Bruce’s brother, along with Nate Higgins, a SWM recipient, participated in the renowned annual “First Lap.” Our clever Live Dive-In Olympic Rings Raffle was truly exciting for all, as swimmers dove for the winning rings at the bottom of the pool. Members Joann Koll and Marilyn Kezirian were thankful that they did not have to dive for the rings! However, the rings were safely retrieved and amazing prizes were awarded to our very own Michele Engemann, Sally Edwards, Mary Pallares and Edwina Broderick. Congratulations ladies on your winnings…your good fortune certainly ran “deep” that day. No pun intended!
Although snapping “selfies” with a real Olympic Gold Medal was superbly cool, the true highlight of the day was personally meeting and hearing the testimonials from each of the SWM Scholarship Recipients. All guests were in awe as these outstanding young men and women recounted their individual stories which were incredible, tragic, emotional, and humbling. Each recipient embodied the power and strength of the SWM program, which ultimately helped them to achieve their full potential, despite their life changing disability, by providing them with financial support for their continuing education and physical challenges. Their compelling and heartfelt life journey accounts were heart wrenching, yet inspiring, and our members and guests discovered that SWM has been an amazing home-grown vision of two incomparable individuals and Trojans, Mike Nyeholt and Ron Orr. Their covenant and dedication to providing aid to physically challenged athletes has been a perfect example of our Olympic Trojan Spirit and exemplifies how this selfless act of kindness, generosity and commitment for 36 years has changed so many young lives. How blessed and honored Trojan League of Los Angeles was to be a part of this beautiful and inspiring celebration of human spirit.
The day culminated with a fabulous barbeque, served up by our friends at USC Catering, and all enjoyed the yummy fare of ribs and trimmings while visiting with our SWM recipients and Olympic athletes. As many returned for a second helping, it dawned on a few that the Song Girls should return for a second round of workout routines to help burn off all those extra calories, but alas the day’s events came to a close.
All guests and participants left happy and humbled by this years’ benefit. Once again, the women of Trojan League of Los Angeles created a stunning, compelling and memorable event for all to enjoy! Thank you to our Benefit Chair, Alisa Chanpong-Amateau, and her talented committee for designing a perfect day to Celebrate our Olympic Trojan Spirit!