STEUBENVILLE - Tickets for the 2012 Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce dinner are now available for public sale.
Sue Hershey, president of the chamber, said Friday afternoon 400 tickets have been sold for the 6 p.m. Sept. 24 dinner at St. Florian Banquet Center that will feature Olympic great Mary Lou Retton as the keynote speaker.
"We still have tickets for the dinner, awards ceremony and comments from Mary Lou Retton available. The tickets are $70 each and are available by calling the chamber offices at (740) 282-6226 or on our website at www.jeffersoncountychamber.com. This is an excellent opportunity to see Mary Lou Retton and to hear her personal story and to honor those who will receive awards at the dinner," Hershey said.
KEYNOTE SPEAKER — Mary Lou Retton. a native of Fairmont, W.Va., and Olympic star, will speak at the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce dinner, planned for 6 p.m. Sept. 24 at St. Florian Hall in Wintersville.
"This will be an exciting dinner where we will recognize several business leaders and will hear an inspirational speaker. This is one of our major events of the year," noted Hershey.
"Retton was described by President Ronald Reagan as 'a hero, living proof of what happens when America sets its sights high and says, 'Let's create a little excellence,'" said Hershey.
"We are honored to have someone of this renown fame to join us for our annual dinner. This is a chance for area residents to join chamber of commerce members and Mary Lou Retton for a great evening," remarked Hershey.
Retton, a Fairmont, W.Va., native, became the first American woman to claim gold in gymnastics when she won the all-around competition at the 1984 Olympics. She also took home a silver in vault, a bronze in uneven bars and floor exercises and a team silver as a member of the U.S. women's gymnastics team, giving her five medals - the most of any athlete that year. She did it all just three weeks after undergoing surgery to repair torn cartilage in her knee.
"Our chamber is so honored to have Ms. Retton share her story, experiences and philosophy through a presentation entitled, 'The Competitive Edge,'" Hershey said. "We're very excited to have Mary Lou here, especially on the heels of the Olympics and seeing how well our women did. It's a great tie-in, a great follow-up to the Olympics and a great addition to our annual dinner."
Hershey said the gold sponsors for the dinner include the Cattrell Cos., Choice Brands of Ohio, Franciscan University of Steubenville, Grae-Con Construction, Steel Valley Tank and Welding, Trinity Health System and WTOV-TV.
"Our silver sponsors are Ambulance Service. Inc., Checker Transportation and Jefferson Security Services; AT&T; Chesapeake Energy; EZ To Use.Com; the Herald-Star and Wal-Mart Distribution Center 7017. Our bronze sponsors for this event are Eastern Gateway Community College, First Choice America Financial, Fort Steuben Mall, M&M Hardware, Kwik King and Riley Petroleum, Project B.E.S.T. and Voto Manufacturing," said Hershey.
Retton continues to touch the lives of millions. A national sports survey ranked her as the most popular athlete in America.
In addition to winning the all-around gold in 1984, Retton is also the only woman to win three American Cups (1983-85), the only American to win Japan's prestigious Chunichi Cup (1983), two U.S. GymnasticsFederation American Classics titles (1983-84) and the all-around title at both the 1984 National Championships and Olympic trials. She retired from competitive gymnastics in 1986, and now is in demand as a motivational speaker and corporate spokesperson. She also travels the world as a "fitness ambassador" promoting the benefits of proper nutrition and regular exercise.
Retton serves as national chairperson and sits on the board of governors of the Children's Miracle Network. She was a commentator for NBC's coverage of the 1988 Olympic Games and wrote a daily column for USA Today at the 1992 and 1996 Olympics. At the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta she served as on-air reporter for Gannett Broadcasting's NBC affiliates, the largest NBC affiliate group in the country.
Countless awards and honors have been bestowed on Retton, including 1984 Sports Illustrated Sportswoman of the Year; 1984 Associated Press Amateur Athlete of the Year; the first gymnast and youngest inductee to the USOC Olympic Hall of Fame; the first woman to appear on a Wheaties box; and one of America's Top Ten "Most Admired" public figures. In 1984, the U.S. Olympic Committee established the annual Mary Lou Retton Award for athletic excellence, and in 1995, first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton presented Retton with the Flo Hyman Award in recognition of her spirit, dignity and commitment to excellence. Retton was selected as a member of the official White House delegation representing the president at both the 1992 and 1998 Olympic games.
She and her husband, Shannon Kelley, live in Fairmont with their four daughters Shayla Rae, McKenna Lane, Skyla Brae and Emma Jean.