Art of the Olympians golf event has lineup full of legends

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The Art of the Olympians museum opened in 2010 and is in the Fort Myers River District. It is one of the few institutions worldwide allowed to use the Olympic rings. The late gold-medal-winning Olympian Al Oerter founded the museum, which has attracted international athletes and dignitaries such as Prince Albert of Monaco (also an Olympian), for fundraising benefits.

Beamon invited some of the participants but many heard about the event through word of mouth. Rogers invited some former track stars. Former NFL player Victor Green invited some of his brethren. Others volunteered to come.

So why? Why do they come?

“He’s Bob Beamon,” said Russ Rogers, a longtime friend and former Team USA coach. “Once you say ‘Beamon,’ we all come.”

These people receive no appearance fees, according Lombardi. They get some free golf, a couple of meals and more memories.

Beamon is quick to say there’s a variety of reasons for the turn out – support for Art of Olympians youth programs being one of the main ones.

“I’ve known Bob quite a few years and Bob told me and extended an invitation to participate in this event,” said Gilmore, who was a six-time NBA all-star. “Giving something back and being in a position to help kids. … Early on, there was somebody for me.”

Former pro golfer Terry-Jo Myers, a Fort Myers resident, added, “They didn’t have to convince us or talk to us into this at all. Anything that filters to the youth, I can’t think of an athlete that wouldn’t be here.”

Others enjoy the camaraderie. As Russell noted, “There’s a bond. It’s like, ‘I’ve been there or I did that.’”

Despite a still-struggling economy, Beamon was pleased with the turnout and the response. He believes folks want to be part of something positive.

“A lot of great people are out there,” he said. “I truly feel blessed that they’d support this.”

Joyner-Kersee inspires students

A group of 200 Lee County high school student listened to and asked questions of Jackie Joyner-Kersee at FGCU Monday morning.

The three-time Olympic gold medalist in the heptathlon and long jump talked about goals. She emphasized it’s not about winning but taking a journey to hopefully become a winner and using mental discipline.

“Give the world the best you have, and the best will come back to you,” Joyner-Kersee said.

When an athlete told her about being concerned about burnout and what was planning for several months out, she told them to be focused on the present to reduce the chance of being overwhelmed.

“You gotta change the vocabulary, change the mindset,” she said.

Art of the Olympians CEO Bob Beamon also attended the event. It helped reaffirm his commitment for having a golf tournament and auction to raise month for youths.

“They’re looking for us to help,” he said. “We all need each other. They’re tomorrow’s future.”

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