Three-time Olympic gold medalist Rowdy Gaines' appearance at the Rec Center in Lewisburg Thursday night, representing the Limu Company turned out to be much more than a simple product pitch for the health drink firm, who struck their own gold when they signed the inspirational swimmer.
Gaines is the Executive Director of Rowdy's Kidz, an initiative by the company to motivate children throughout the country to find their passion and reach for lofty goals through free swim clinics.
At these three-hour clinics, Gaines enters the pool to teach swimming techniques in an attempt to help competitive swimmers ages 6-18 gain an advantage through his experiences.
Besides the clinics, Gaines' other passion is to give back to children, visiting young people in schools, hospitals, and other community programs to help kids realize their full potential...that whatever they dream - in or out of the pool - they can do!
In his speech to crowd, Gaines said, "It is never about our own flesh and blood, it is about these kids, they are our future."
Gaines, who signed autographs before speaking to the large crowd, said, "First, you have to find that dream and then you have to be persistent with that dream and never give up. We all have dreams, I had a dream to become an Olympian."
The gold medalist added, "I came from a small town in Winterhaven, Florida, much like here in Lewisburg and you have to work harder and work smarter if you don't have all the facilities big towns do."
Gaines, who spoke of being cut from five different high school sport's teams before he found swimming at age 17 said, "It is not like I just showed up one day at the Olympics and said, 'Hi, my name is Rowdy Gaines'. I worked hard to get there."
"You have to have a passion for what you do, however old you are, no matter what you do. If you don't love what you do, you will never succeed," said Gaines.
Gaines had that passion, during his Olympic triumphs, during his recovery after the Olympics from the crippling autoimmune disease, Guillain Barre, and he has it now.
Buoyed by his position with Limu, one of the fastest growing companies in the health drink industry, Gaines has a national platform to attain his passion of helping kids and said, "I hope the next time I come to Lewisburg it will be for a Rowdy's Kidz clinic."
Asked about the possibility of Lewisburg hosting one of his clinics, Gaines said, "I think for the 2009 year we have about seven out of nine cities set. It sure looks like we will be adding Lewisburg to that list, but nothing is set in stone yet."
The kids of Marshall County will be the next ones to strike gold if the clinic becomes a reality because Rowdy Gaines is a proven American hero and passionate about giving back to the youth of this country.