Summary by Michael Schwartz
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- At an age when kids are young and struggling just to graduate, what's to stop them from turning to drugs and gangs? Pat McCormick is. She's a four-time Olympic gold medalist, and is sharing her winning spirit with "at-risk" kids at Workman High School in East LA.
Why does she spend hour and hours giving high school students not only hope and courage but also the skills they need to succeed?
Years ago, Pat McCormick won four gold medals in diving at the Olympic games. Now her passion for excellence would is proving to be a role model for so many kids the system had abandoned.
"My father died on skid row, and that's the motivation I have. I want to let everyone know if you have a dream and you believe it, you will find a way. You have to surround yourself with winners, you have to work,"
"We have been very fortunate to have Pat adopt our school and work with our students. It's been a real plus not only for the students and the school but for the community as well," says the school's Principal, Dan Hale. "It's given our students, who don't have that experience, the opportunity of looking at long range goals, to college and beyond, she gives them a sense of direction. Pat is a tremendous lady."
How did she get started doing this? Pat was on the Olympic organizing committee in 1984. Peter Ubberoff started sending out committee members to speak at corporations and schools. Pat's first speech was to Windling elementary in El Puente. Afterwards, one of the teachers came up and said "Pat, we have 100 kids who aren't going to make it. Can you help us?" Pat volunteered two mornings a week, beginning her new career as an educator and a motivator. At the elementary school, Pat developed and refined her process, focusing on three principles: you have to work, you have to learn, and you have to surround yourself with winners.
It took a lot of work, but after some time she began to see results. The children started staying in school and getting good grades.
Now Pat dedicates her time to Workman High School with excellent results. Every single child who participated in her program last year has graduated! Plus they have set and met very ambitious goals for themselves. In addition to her hands-on work with the kids, Pat is also setting her sights on cloning this program to other schools. If you would like to contribute to her non-profit organization, please call the Pat McCormick Foundation at (310) 493-0388
"I truly love these kids, I would have never gone through all the things that I have gone through if it weren't for these kids!"