U.S. Olympic and Paralympic athletes honor those who inspired them most

O.C. Tanner to give commemorative rings to three Olympic and three Paralympic mentors; public invited to vote online for most compelling stories

SALT LAKE CITY, July 30, 2012 – What compels an athlete to wake up before sunrise, train for hours a day and push his or her body and mind to the limits for a chance to compete in the greatest athletic contest of all?

To be sure, it includes a superhuman dose of commitment and a burning passion to be the best. But just as importantly, it involves inspiration – that almost indefinable motivation that compels a person to take action, strive for more and endeavor to keep going no matter the odds or challenges.

O.C. Tanner , the designer, manufacturer and donor of commemorative rings for the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Teams, offers U.S. Olympic and Paralympic athletes the opportunity to honor those who inspired them most through the O.C. Tanner Inspiration Award. Athletes are submitting their stories of appreciation on O.C. Tanner’s “Appreciate Great Work” Facebook page (Facebook.com/AppreciateGreatWork). Three Olympians and three Paralympians will receive the Inspiration Award – a 14k gold commemorative ring – that they, in turn, can present to their mentors. In recognition of the influence of mentors for Olympic athletes in ancient Greece, the Inspiration ring features a laurel crown and the words “Inspire, Olympian and Mentor” in Greek.

More than 20 U.S. athletes have already nominated their inspirations and the Facebook page will be updated with new stories during the coming weeks. The public is encouraged to read these stories, share with their Facebook friends and vote for their favorites throughout the 2012 London Olympic Games – Friday, July 27 through Sunday, Aug. 12. The two Olympic athletes who receive the most Facebook votes will each receive the O.C. Tanner Inspiration Award, and the United States Olympic Committee will select the third Award based on the story it deems most inspiring. Facebook voting for Paralympic athletes will coincide with the 2012 London Paralympic Games -Wednesday, Aug. 29 through Sunday, Sept. 9.

“Behind every Olympian and Paralympian there is someone who encouraged a dream and awakened the quest for Olympic and Paralympic glory,” said Lisa Baird, Chief Marketing Officer of the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC). “As we prepare to cheer on and celebrate the victories of our athletes in London, we would like to also recognize the people who contributed to their success, whether it’s a parent, a sibling, a teammate, a coach or a friend. The Inspiration Award truly honors these motivators.”

O.C. Tanner, an international appreciation and recognition company based in Salt Lake City, Utah, has been the designer, manufacturer and donor of commemorative rings for the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Teams since the 2000 Sydney Olympic and Paralympic Games. The company created the Inspiration Award for the 2010 Vancouver Olympic and Paralympic Games, and more than one million votes were cast online. Curt Tomasevicz, gold medal-winning bobsledder, was selected as one of three recipients of the Inspiration Award, which he presented to the residents of his hometown, Shelby, Neb., for supporting and inspiring his Olympic aspirations.

“From a company who believes that appreciating employees is key to organizational success, creating a ring to commemorate those who have inspired Olympic and Paralympic greatness is appreciation of the highest order,” said David Petersen, CEO of O.C. Tanner. “The Inspiration Award honors those who supported, encouraged and believed in athletes so these athletes could believe in themselves.”

To learn more about the Inspiration Award and vote for your favorite athlete, visit: http://www.facebook.com/appreciategreatwork

Twittercue: # Olympic stories are truly inspiring. http://on.fb.me/NhVnNb. Vote for your favorite. #InspirationAward #TeamUSA

About the USOC

Founded in 1894 and headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colo., the U.S. Olympic Committee serves as both the National Olympic Committee and National Paralympic Committee for the United States. As such, the USOC is responsible for the training, entering and funding of U.S. teams for the Olympic, Paralympic, Youth Olympic, Pan American and Parapan American Games, while serving as a steward of the Olympic and Paralympic Movements throughout the country. For more information, visit TeamUSA.org.

About O.C. Tanner

O.C. Tanner is an international appreciation and recognition business based in Salt Lake City, Utah. The company helps more than 8,000 clients worldwide appreciate people who do great work. Because celebrating great work inspires people to invent, to create and to discover. And when people are inspired, companies grow.

O.C. Tanner has also been the proud designer, manufacturer and donor of the U.S. Olympic Team rings since the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games.

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