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Gabby Douglas, Shawn Johnson, and Nastia Liukin realized that their time in the limelight would be brief. As such they have chosen to milk it for all it is worth. Dancing with the stars, meeting the president, the today show, and fashion shoots in Elle magazine won’t be knocking on the door forever, so they have chosen the conventional “wisdom”—make as much money as you can…while you can.

But imagine if you will, taking all that fame and publicity, rejecting making a buck and profit for yourself, you using it to open a gymnastics facility where all are welcome, and if you can’t pay—don’t worry we will find a way.

Linda Metheny-Mulvihill did just that. After appearing in three different olympics, and being the first American female to ever make event finals, Linda could have written her ticket. Instead she chose to invest herself in a life’s work that has touched 35,000 kids.

Linda and her husband/coach Dick opened a gymnastics school, an academy for artistic gymnastics in Eugene, Oregon. They produced an olympian in 68, 72, 76, and 80 even though it was boycotted. They not only coached from 6am till 8am, but they also housed and fed their elite gymnasts who came from around the world. In total, they produced 7 olympians, 56 national champions, and nearly 2,000 regional champions and state champions.

They did it with one single purpose: Love.

I was honored to be an invited guest this last weekend to their 40th anniversary celebration. At the function, I listened to story after story from former gymnasts, parents, and coaches about the dedication and life lessons imparted by the Mulvihills. Many of the best coaches in the nation got their start with the Mulvihills at the National Academy for Artistic Gymnastics as well, such as Marvin Sharp coach of world champion and Olympian Bridget Sloan.

Mizo Mizoguchi, arguably one of the best men’s coaches in the nation, said of his tenure at the national academy that, “In Japan, life is centered around respect. But Dick and Linda, taught me about love, and forever changed the direction of my life.”

Another coach, Dan Alch, talked about the lessons that he learned from the Mulvihills when he quoted Dick as saying, “Well Dan, you have taught all the hardest skills, even invented some, and taken your kids to the top of the competitive pyramid…but can you keep them in the gym?” Dan talked about this being a wake up moment—achievements are great, but at what cost? Are not happy kids the real end goal?

Linda in her final words of the evening, related what to some would be considered a tragedy. She told all in attendance how Dick had a stroke nearly 10 years ago. That ended Dicks Gymnastics coaching because of his confinement to a wheel chair. Dick a lover of all sport, found that the local high school football teams practice was just a few blocks from his home.

Dick sat through rain and sun on the edge of the field and watched the boys scrimmage. One day the head coach came over and introduced himself to man crippled up in his electric chair. Dick, ever the ardent student of sports science, had a few ideas that he imparted to the coach. “Perhaps just some ideas to tryout”…the coach did.

As the practices turned summer to fall, the head coach kept sending boys over to get “lessons” from this former 5 time olympic coach. One day, Linda returned home from the gym to see Dick sitting in his Lazy Boy with a football in his lap…signed by every boy on the team. They had won the state championship, and they wanted to tell this man who gave what he could, “Thank You!”

Linda’s last words of the evening…never stop giving. Never stop loving. Despite what happens to you, never stop contributing to the betterment of the lives of those around you.

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