Yesterday, our Port of Los Angeles Boys & Girls Club was visited by local Olympic gold medalist, Eric Fonoimoana. Over 100 kids from the Club and from our Barton Hill Elementary School site gathered in the gym overlooking the Port to meet Eric and hear his story of triumph.
Like many of our Club members, Eric is a South Bay resident born and raised. At the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney he and his partner Dain Blanton won the gold medal in beach volleyball. Eric has played professionally for more than eighteen years and has won at least one tournament for seven straight years between 1998 and 2004.
After a spirited tug-of-war competition organized by Eric, the kids settled down to watch a short movie showing the famous moment when he made the final block over the net sealing the gold medal win for Dain and himself. Our youth saw Eric’s medal ceremony as the star spangled banner played over Sydney’s Bondi Beach.
Eric revealed to our kids that he was only seven years old when he saw his sister win the silver medal in swimming at the 1976 Montreal Olympic Games and decided that he would do whatever it took to get to the Olympics. He is the youngest of six siblings who introduced him to volleyball as a child and challenged him to develop his athletic skills. From playing sports to doing simple chores, Eric was brought up to always finish what he started. He gave every challenge his best effort and never quit half-way through. Eric explained that it was his hard work and determination to never give up that led him to Olympic gold.
Our Club kids were thrilled to see Eric’s gold medal and were inspired by his story. As the kids passed in front of Eric to see his medal, one middle school girl informed him that she was working hard as a gymnast and wanted to go to the Olympics. Two girls from our Port of Los Angeles Club Teen Center who play on POLA High School’s volleyball team attended the event after practice to meet Eric.
Thanks so much to Eric Fonoimoana for visiting our Club and sharing his story and to our supporters at Wells Fargo for helping arrange the visit. More information about Eric and his non-profit foundation, Dig 4 Kids Education Foundation which provides academic and athletic opportunities to youth in low-income communities, can be found at www.dig4kids.org.