Your Town, Aug. 12

The XXX Olympiad in London is winding down, with the closing ceremony set for this evening.

Women’s gymnastics has been the sport I followed each Olympics, beginning with the 1972 Munich Games. A 17-year old girl named Olga Korbut from the Soviet Union was a major headliner that some media say “redefined her sport” that year.

Winning gold and silver medals in several competitions, Korbut was inspiring, especially to me as a timid sixth-grader that fall. I could barely deliver a crooked cartwheel — let alone a back flip — in the physical education class, but I sure tried.

I wore my hair in pigtails, did faux gymnastic routines all over our front yard with the elegance of an awkward pre-teen and worked daily at improving my landing, or lack of, with grace and poise. Olga was spunky, flexible and could fly! I was pretty much batting zero in all three categories, but I wanted to be like her.

The following year, the seventh and eighth grade physical education teachers at Miller Junior High School organized a girls gymnastics competition and conducted tryouts during classes. I had a fairly decent pommel horse “trick” I could do, so signed up for the upcoming tryouts, and to my surprise, qualified for the competition with what I called a “head-plant front flip.” Practices were after school a couple of nights leading up to the competition and I steadily perfected the vault.

When I entered the gym the morning of the competition and saw the bleachers lined with parents and grandparents and the floor arranged with the various pieces of equipment for the competition, my mouth went dry, and my arms and legs turned to spaghetti.

I don’t know what it was — maybe the all the butterflies in my stomach — but when my turn came to compete, I stood poised, confident and after running full force, flew over the horse with my flip and landed perfectly on the mat. Arms up, smile!

I tied for first place and took home a blue ribbon that day.

But more importantly, I look back realizing the importance of a positive role model and how it inspires our youth. Interesting ... the 2012 London Olympic theme is “Inspire a Generation,” but really, hasn’t that been the theme all along?

CenturyLink Inc. and its employees across the country had a Feed the Children Backpack Buddies Food Drive June 25–29 in which approximately 650 company locations participated.

Locally, 3,242 pounds of food, including monetary donations, actual food items and other contributions, was collected to benefit the Western Slope Food Bank of the Rockies.

The local chapter of Project Linus is inviting the public to create handmade blankets that be donated to children who are in need of the comfort and security that only a blanket can provide.

Most children receive a Project Linus blanket through a local hospital, shelter, or other agency. Monetary donations are also needed and can be made online at Proceeds go toward the numerous expenses involved in maintaining Project Linus, such as fabric, batting, yarn, other blanket-making supplies, blanket labels, printing, office supplies, shipping, accounting and auditing.

The volunteer page at the website also lists donations of materials needed and what can or cannot be accepted. If you are hand-making a Project Linus blanket, the organization welcomes blankets of all styles, including quilts, tied comforters, fleece blankets, crocheted or knitted afghans, and receiving blankets in child-friendly colors. Blankets must be new, handmade and washable and must come from a smoke-free environment.

The Project Linus blankets are donated to infants, children and teens and can be as small as 36” by 36”, or the majority of the blankets are about 40” × 60” — known as “crib size.” Blankets could be as large as twin size for teens.

Learn more about Project Linus at the website, or call the local project coordinator Kerri Strasser, 523-0028 or email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Mark your calendar and get your bike or walking shoes tuned up to test drive the newest addition to the Riverfront Trail , during the dedication of the section, at 10 a.m. Aug. 23, on the Riverfront Trail, near the Blue Heron Boat Ramp, just off the Redlands Parkway, east of the Colorado River bridge.

The trail segment on the Colorado Riverfront Trail that will eventually connect Grand Junction to Fruita, along the Colorado River, are being built in three phases. The first phase, extending west from Redlands Parkway, is an additional 2.8 miles for riding and walking. It is now complete and the public is invited to help name it.

Parking is limited at the Blue Heron Boat Ramp with additional parking at the Junior Service League Park to the east. Carpooling is encouraged.

Call 244-3230 for more information.

Mesa County RSVP will host two free tutor training classes for people ages 55 and older who would like to help children succeed in school.

The Senior Scholar Projects places volunteers in kindergarten through 12th grade in Mesa County schools. Training classes are 8:15 a.m.–noon Tuesday Aug. 28 or Wednesday Sept. 12, at the RSVP office, in the lower level of the US Bank building, 422 White Ave., Suite 090. Space is limited. Preregister by calling 243-9839.

Submit your Planner and community news items by email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), by fax at 244-8578, or by mail to P.O. Box 668, Grand Junction, CO, 81502. Items to be considered for Your Town should be submitted at least two weeks prior to the event.


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