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President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama welcomed Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, Chicago 2016 Chairman and CEO Patrick Ryan, and more than 15 Olympians and Paralympians, to the South Lawn on the grounds of the White House in Washington, D.C., Sept. 16 - just 16 days out from the International Olympic Committee's announcement of the 2016 host city decision in Copenhagen, Denmark.
The event, supported by the new Office of Olympic, Paralympic and Youth Sport, applauded legacy programs such as World Sport Chicago's Athlete Ambassador Program for Olympians and Paralympians to help give back to youth some of what they have learned, and to wish Chicago 2016-America's bid for the Olympic and Paralympic Games-good luck. The day also highlighted the Obama Administration's commitment to service, healthy living and youth sport sparked by morning visits to Sousa and Lake Ridge middle schools.
On behalf of USA Archery, Claudia Stevenson of Watching Arrows Fly presented President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama with two JOAD Gold Olympian pins and a certificate naming Sasha and Malia Obama honorary JOAD members.
"I was delighted that Archery was selected as one of the highlighted sports by World Sport Chicago," said Stevenson. "Meeting the President and First Lady was an exhilarating, humbling and never-to-be-forgotten experience."
Beginning last January World Sport Chicago sponsored a pilot of archery classes for the Chicago Park District with the assistance of the Easton Sport Development Foundation and Archery Education Resources. With the overwhelming success of the archery programs, archery was chosen as one of the sports to be highlighted at several World Sport Chicago events.
Also attending were: Olympians Jackie Joyner-Kersee and Michael Conley, and Paralympians April Holmes and Linda Mastandrea in athletics; Dominique Dawes in gymnastics; Arlene Limas in taekwondo; Henry Cejudo in wrestling; and Chicago 2016 Vice Chairman Bob Ctvrtlik in volleyball. Other medalists on hand were: International Olympic Committee Member Anita DeFrantz (rowing, 1976, 1980), USOC Board Member Jair Lynch (gymnastics, 1992, 1996), Hope Lewellen (wheelchair tennis 1996, 2000; sitting volleyball, 2004, 2008) and Tim Morehouse (fencing, 2008). Chicago Park District Board of Commissioners Vice President Bob Pickens (wrestling, 1964), judo athletes from the 2008 Games Ryan Reser and Myles Porter, Olympic hopeful Daria Schneider in fencing, and Jerrod Fields, an Iraq War veteran and Paralympic hopeful.
Morehouse, who won a silver medal in men's sabre at the Olympic Games in Beijing and formerly taught underprivileged students at Teach For America, demonstrated his discipline on the White House lawn.
"Being at the White House was amazing," he said. "[President Barack Obama] spent five minutes with us. Obama said he'd always wanted to try fencing. He refereed a match."
It's a day Morehouse and the other athletes won't soon forget - and neither will the schoolchildren.
"It's always an honor to meet the President and go to the White House," Olympic Silver Medalist Morehouse said. "But to support Chicago 2016 and get a chance to talk to some great kids, to promote our sport and healthy living, and to talk about our Olympic experiences - it's truly a highlight of my life. It's an all-around perfect day."
Also contributing to the story was www.chicago2016.org.
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