RIDGWAY – Ridgway Secondary School’s 28 graduating seniors will be inspired to relentlessly pursue their own personal best – whatever that might be – as Olympic discus thrower Lance Brooks takes the stage to deliver a rousing commencement address at their graduation ceremony next Friday, May 24.
“This is a great opportunity for the graduating class, to have an Olympian speaking at their event,” said Ridgway Secondary School Principal Jim Bob Hobbs. “In terms of the hard work and diligence it takes to become an Olympic athlete, his journey has been the epitome of exactly that. Lance sharing a message with the class related to his work ethic, determination, and personal perseverance should serve as inspiration to all.”
Standing 6 feet 6 inches tall, with a 7-foot wingspan and size 17 feet, Brooks is truly a larger-than-life inspirational figure. The 29-year-old Denver-based athlete excelled in Track and Field in high school and college, but had to dig deep to find the stuff to become an Olympian. “I missed making it to the 2008 Olympics by 26 inches,” he recalled. “But, this did not deter me from continuing my Olympic quest.”
After four more years of incessant training, he went on to become the top-ranked American in the discus event at the 2012 Olympic Trials, placing first with a new personal best of 213.7 feet. At the London Olympics, he placed 21st.
Ridgway Town Councilor Rick Weaver will introduce Brooks at the commencement ceremony. Weaver’s well-known father, the late actor and environmental activist Dennis Weaver who adopted Ridgway as his hometown in his later years, would likely have made the 1948 Olympic Team in the Decathlon, “had he not spent the wee hours of the night before the trials pounding the streets of New York chasing his dream of becoming an actor,” his son recalled. “Ironically, London is where Lance Brooks did compete last year in the Olympics Discus Throw – a decathlon event. So, there is a connection here.”
Dennis Weaver caught his dream, became an actor, and was later asked by the U.S. Olympic Committee to be a torch bearer prior to the Opening Ceremonies in Los Angeles in 1984. That torch will be on display at the upcoming graduation ceremony.
“Many young people dream of making the Olympic team,” Rick Weaver reflected. “Incredibly, Lance caught this dream on his final attempt at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials, making the team by throwing a personal best, and I hope he'll speak to and inspire the Ridgway graduates as to how they can catch theirs. It will be my honor to introduce Lance Brooks at the Graduation Ceremony next week.”
Local businesses and families are funding Brooks’ visit to Ridgway and his speaker fee. A few more sponsors are still sought. Contact Toni Cotton at firstname.lastname@example.org or 970/318-6683 for more information.
The graduation ceremony starts at 6 p.m. and take place at the Ridgway Secondary School. The event is open to the public. Beloved RSS English teacher Brad Fritsch will also give a commencement address.