A couple weeks later, through a connection at work, Curt was offered a ticket for one of our girls to attend the “meet and greet” afterwards. Hmmm … now which one of our girls might like to meet Shawn Johnson? Talk about a no-brainer!
Then Madison’s gymnastics team was invited to perform on the balance beam before Shawn (and her mom, Teri) came out to speak. Madison was pumped!
At first I was tempted to wait until that night to surprise Madison. I imagined the look on her face when I’d tell her she could go backstage and meet Shawn Johnson. But after further consideration, I decided not to spring it on her. Instead, I ran it by her at dinner. Her quick response left no room for doubt.
“Are you kidding? She’s like the President to me!”
After much anticipation on Madison’s part, we attended “An Evening with Shawn Johnson” last Thursday night. Shawn spoke about her journey of becoming an Olympic gymnast and also shared a few experiences from Dancing with the Stars.
I particularly enjoyed one story Shawn shared from her time at the 2008 Olympics. Immediately after winning a silver medal, a news reporter stuck a microphone in Shawn’s face and asked, “So Shawn, how does it feel to lose?”
Shawn took a moment to gather her thoughts. Now wait a minute, she thought. I just won a silver medal at the Olympics! What is wrong with the world?
Shawn looked at the reporter and said, “I didn’t lose. I won a silver medal.”
Shawn added, “When you win a gold medal, you get all the attention. But if you win silver, you’re pretty much invisible.” Shawn chuckled as she described how others reacted to her silver medal. “People just give you an awkward look and quietly say, “Oh. Good try.”
But Shawn said she couldn’t have been happier with her silver medal. She knew she had done her best and was proud of her accomplishments.
Overall, Shawn’s message to young girls was unmistakable:
Believe in your dreams.
Dare to be different.
Embrace what you love.
Be your own person.
Coincidentally, those are the same things I try to teach my girls. But for some reason, hearing it from your mom isn’t quite the same as hearing it from an Olympic champion.
As I left that night with my three little ladies – my youngest with an autographed pamphlet, a special photo with Shawn, and a wide smile – I had only one thought.
Thanks, Shawn. I couldn’t have said it better myself.