Virginia Commonwealth Games Kickoff with J.R. Celski
Thursday, July 1, 2010 - 12:00am
The Coventry Commonwealth Games of Virginia were held in Roanoke from <BR>July 16-18, 2010. Jefferson College of Health Sciences hosted part of the kickoff events on Friday, July 16.
The JCHS portion of the Games' kickoff was held in the College's Student Union, The Dog House, at Carilion Roanoke Community Hospital. Here, we see The Dog House decorated in anticipation of the crowd to come.
This event's main decoration expert was Bobby Booth, the Administrative Assistant in Communications, Alumni and Development. Here, he poses with Christina Hatch, JCHS Coordinator for Development and Alumni Relations.
Soon, The Dog House began to fill with our guests, including JCHS students, faculty and staff, as well as members of the Roanoke community and, athletes and representatives from the Commonwealth Games.
Our Master of Ceremonies was Lisa Allison-Jones, JCHS Dean for Academic Affairs. She welcomed everyone to the JCHS campus and introduced the first speaker: Chris Fanning (right), Chairman of the Board for Virginia Amateur Sports, which oversees the Games.
After Mr. Fanning's remarks, he introduced the Commonwealth Games' featured Guest Speaker for 2010, J.R. Celski, a two-time bronze medalist in speed skating at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver.
Before J.R. began speaking, the crowd watched a short film highlighting his career so far.
J.R. then described how his dedication and hard work led him along a path to success. He began his speed skating career as a very young child, practicing six days a week. His family even moved so that he could be closer to the training facilities he needed.
Members of the JCHS staff listen as J.R. describes his training regimen. From left to right are: Sarah Higginbotham, Coordinator of the JCHS VOICE (Violence Can End) Program; Vickie Brown, JCHS Bursar; and Lynn Freeman, Assistant in the Business Office and the JCHS Bookstore.
J.R. emphasized that one of the most important ways to find success is prioritize the things that are important to you. He even took some time away from speed skating himself to make sure that's what he wanted to do with his life. Here, we find the local CBS affiliate WDBJ filming J.R.'s speech for the news that night.
J.R. almost didn't make it to the 2010 Olympics. He discussed an accident on the track where a fall led to a blade slicing into his leg, which left a six inch long, two inch deep gash that required 60 stitches. But, he battled back and made the Olympic team anyway.
In addition to being part of the kickoff for the Commonwealth Games, the JCHS event also served as a birthday party for J.R. He celebrated his 20th birthday while in Roanoke. Here, members of the Roanoke Boys and Girls Club present him with a birthday card that the kids made for him.
We even had a cake that wished him a happy birthday while celebrating the JCHS/Commonwealth Games partnership.
After J.R. received his card, he was serenaded by the crowd with a rousing rendition of "Happy Birthday."
J.R. and Chris Fanning smile as the crowd sings to him.
J.R. was then kind enough to sign some water bottles given away to those who attended the event.
J.R. hands a signed water bottle to a member of the Roanoke Boys and Girls Club.
He then took a moment to do an interview with WDBJ-7 sports reporter Grant Kittelson.
J.R. poses with the kids who were with us from the Roanoke Boys and Girls Club. Thank you to everyone who joined us for this great event on the JCHS campus and be sure to mark your calendars to join us again next year!