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Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Chairman Kevin O'Toole with Olympic gold medalist Bonnie Blair. (Photo: Kevin J. O'Toole).

The O’Toole Chronicles: Bonnie Blair

By Kevin O'Toole, May 09 2022 12:01 am

I recently attended a Women’s Leadership Luncheon with featured speaker Bonnie Blair.

For those of my generation, you probably know about this incredible Olympian. One bronze and five gold medals make Bonnie one of the most successful and prolific speed skaters of all time. Bonnie appeared in 4 Olympics and medaled in 3 of them. Unbelievable.

At this scenic luncheon in downtown Chicago, Bonnie brought her message of finding a craft, working tirelessly and collaborating with others. Bonnie is a motivational speaker now and her opening narration by Greg Gumbel and Charles Kuralt left an emotional impact on all the attendees.

Bonnie’s outlook was incredibly positive.  She said you need to be focused, determined and don’t be beset by failure or losses. Most everyone assumed she was referring to her professional goal of being an Olympic champion, but this incredibly strong woman applied that same motto to her personal life – she lost three of her 6 siblings to illness and her mother to dementia. Even in the face of a loss, Bonnie pulled some positive out of the experience and added that to her mission going forward. Through it all she pushed on.

After the program, I asked her what she would advise a younger Bonnie Blair. She paused and said “I wouldn’t change a thing.”

She went on to add that life is beautiful and she loves everyday — even the hard ones.

Talk about a championship mentality.


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