No Grief, No Glory Posted on 25 Feb 15:55


We’re waist-high into February and hopefully moving past winter’s fury. I thought the month would be quieter; I thought I’d be able to watch more of the Olympics. I managed to catch much of the good stuff—the unforgettable stories that remind me that the human spirit is naturally indomitable.

One of my favorite Olympic narratives revolves around Noelle Pikus-Pace. Maybe you’ve heard her story? Prior to Sochi, she had skeletons in her Olympic closet. Pikus-Pace was coming off a big win at the World Cup in 2005 and was no doubt an Olympic medal contender for the Torino Games. Her hopes were derailed by a freak accident when she was hit by a bobsled with faulty brakes.Her right leg and her heart were officially broken. Finishing in 4th place in the Women’s Skeleton, Vancouver felt no less tragic. She retired from the sport that gave her grief as much as glory.

After many months and a miscarriage, Noelle’s inspired husband told his wife she should return to her first love. “What would make you want to come back again?” he asked. Her reply was simple but costly—we do this as a family as long as we can afford to. He agreed, with the idea that he wanted his wife to have “no regrets.”

Goal-oriented Pikus-Pace went to work—she trained between meal times, play dates, and volunteering at her church. Unlike her determination, her money dwindled. It looked like Noelle and her family would not be able to afford to compete on the agreed terms. Miraculously, Pikus-Pace received a phone call from a genuine stranger named Kalleen Lund, who listened to her story with interest just two months earlier on an airplane. Kaleen asked to meet at a gas station. There she simply got out of her car, handed Pikus-Pace a card, and drove off into the distance. The card contained a check for 30,000 dollars. Unreal.

We all know how the story ends—with a silver medal that’s as “good as gold” and two tiny kids in tow. I love it. The story is enchanting on several levels. It reminds me to do like Churchill and Pikus-Pace: Never Never Never Give Up, despite difficulty and seemingly insurmountable barriers. Stick close to those you love and who love you; make them priority number one. And never underestimate the power of determination and hope. Who knows, maybe this is a recipe for ordinary miracles in our lives? I’d like to think so. Time to keep Pikus-Pace—I have no doubts I’ll be glad I did.