Greensboro, North Carolina – American hero and Olympic gold medal winning rower Jason Read gave the keynote address at the 2017 Celebration of Rowing banquet held at Sedgefield Country Club on Saturday night and he did not disappoint.
High Point Masters rower ‘Kiwi Mike’ Hitchcock, serving as Master of Ceremonies, opened the evening by introducing Greensboro youth rower Benjamin Huitt to give the invocation.
After enjoying a delicious feast, Kiwi Mike then returned to the podium to begin the formal ceremonies, which began with High Point rower Charlotte Curri, who recited “The Oarsman’s Poem” by legendary rowing coach Steve Fairbairn.
Mary Hollingsworth then presented the High Point Parent of the Year award to Conni Curri for her service to the crew. Greensboro parent Julie Higgins then presented the Greensboro Parent of the Year award to Sara Nichols.
Jackie King, last year’s Masters MVP winner and this year’s chair of the Celebration of Rowing banquet, was then invited to the podium to introduce the 2017 recipient – ‘Girl Jeanne’ MacPherson. Congratulations Girl Jeanne – Masters Rower of the Year! Unfortunately, Jeanne could not be at the banquet due to work commitments.
Greensboro coach and 2004 Olympian Lisa Schlenker then talked about the progress of Greensboro Crew and concluded by presenting the Katherine Dickson Award for youth service to Greensboro Crew to MaryBlake Murphy.
Maddie Mullins then presented the Caroline Howard Cup for youth service to High Point Rowing Club to Junior Ognovich. Words can not do justice to the inspiration that Maddie filled the ball room with her theme of excellence and giving to your team mates.
Jason Read was then introduced to guests by club founder and High Point Coach Gene Kininmonth, who shared his own personal experience of 911: “As we wondered how we would flee this madness, elsewhere a small number of others were heading straight for it….driving directly into this abyss with full expectations in that moment that the horror would only get worse. Jason Read was one of those few. I am looking forward to hearing Jason’s story from tragedy to triumph this evening.”
And our keynote speaker did not disappoint.
A volunteer rescue squad fire chief from the age of 21, Read received the call to Ground Zero on the morning of September 11, 2001 shortly after the first plane hit the World Trade Center in New York.
Just three years later Jason Read represented his country again, bringing home the Olympic gold as part of the men’s eight rowing crew at the 2004 Athens games.
After his speech, which received a standing ovation from the 200 guests, rowers and parents alike approached the rowing legend to thank him for sharing his story of inspiration.
JR continues a banquet tradition of introducing world renowned rowing leaders to the Triad. Rowing Blazers author and archaeologist, Jack Carlson spoke in 2016, while cutting edge rowing boat maker Misha Joukowsky spoke in 2015. Double Olympic gold medalist Caroline Lind was the 2014 guest speaker.