Retired Olympian Kristi Richards has found herself in the spotlight at Summerland Middle School once again.
The 2010 Olympian and Summerland native has always maintained a special connection with the students at her former school, and on Friday, Okanagan-Coquihalla MP Dan Albas presented her with a Diamond Jubilee Medal there.
“It’s just amazing to be recognized by the community,” said Richards, who was swarmed by students following the ceremony that included a video from former principal Katie Hicks. “For me giving back and coming back to the community and sharing my story is just out of passion and out of love. I don’t expect any recognition for it at all. It’s nice that they do recognize the people in the community that are trying to make a difference. To be among people like Josh Dueck and Jennifer Heil that are receiving this award as well is really, really special.”
Prior to calling up Richards, Albas said the medal is a way to pay tribute to Canadians whose remarkable achievements have benefitted their fellow citizens, their community and the country.
During question period, a student asked Albas who inspires him. He started the response by saying Richards and Summerland Mayor Janice Perrino, to whom he also presented a Diamond Jubilee Medal, are an inspiration to him. He quoted Ghandi who said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
“I think both of our Diamond Jubilee recipients today emphasize that,” he said. “That’s why I’m so proud to be here.”
Richards said the award is different from her other accolades because it recognizes her for what she has done away from the mogul course. Now running an artisan shop and yoga studio while studying holistic nutrition, Richards said Summerland means everything to her.
Richards had some touching words for the students.
“What I really love is that you guys remind me of when I started dreaming, when I set those goals,” she said. “Seeing the spark in your guys’ eyes and hearing all your stories, what you want to do. That’s absolutely inspiring.”
Student Katarina Stohler said Richards taught them to never give up on their hopes and dreams.
Perrino said Richards was a hero during the Olympics.
“She fell, and when we were all in here (Summerland Middle School), we cried,” she said. “We all cried. Kristi deserves everything that she gets. She’s such an amazing young woman. (She’s) very much proven that anything is possible and I hope these kids get that message.”