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The destination might be Sochi, but the journey does not begin or end there for US Olympians and their moms. On October 28, 2013, just 100 days before the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games, Proctor & Gamble kicked off their Thank You, Mom campaign with a special advance screening of their Raising an Olympian film series which highlights the journey of these athletes and their moms to get to the Olympics. On hand to discuss their involvement with the program and talk about how their mothers were inspirational and instrumental in their success was alpine skier Lindsey Vonn, figure skater Evan Lysacek, sled hockey paralympian Taylor Lippsett, and hockey player Julie Chu. (photo credit)

While sitting on stage with their moms, the athletes embodied what we all want to believe about our US Olympic team: strength, determination, confidence, humility, and a strong sense of family values. Taylor looked effortlessly stoic, Evan confident but humble, and Lindsey lived up to her iconic image, but it was Julie who captured the hearts of the audience. I have to be honest, because women’s hockey isn’t a marquee sport, she wasn’t on my radar, but it was exactly for that reason she stood out while sitting on the panel. The 5’8” first generation American is not just breaking gender barriers, she is destroying them, but it was her infectious enthusiasm that took over the room. (photo credit)

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Multiple times during the interview she would smile or touch her mom’s arm or leg and she seemed so genuine when speaking about her mother that I was tempted to pull her mother aside and ask the secret to her success for raising someone so brave and yet so sweet. When Julie was asked about why she became involved in P&G’s inspirational campaign she replied without hesitation, “What’s amazing about the [Thank You, Mom] program is that as athletes we get to have the limelight, we get to feel good about ourselves, people want our autographs, every so often… but our parents, especially our moms are the ones who are the heart and soul of this journey, and I love that we get to share this experience [with them] because it really means the world.”

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To help athletes’ moms who may not be able to afford to be with their children at the Games, P&G has gifted all 357 moms of US Olympians & Paralympians a $1,000 VISA gift card to help them on their journey to Sochi. (photo credit)

“We’re so inspired by the commitment to excellence we see from these Olympic & Paralympic athletes,” said Jodi Allen, P&G VP of North America Marketing and Brand Operations. “We also recognize that behind every athlete is a mom that helped get them there, which is why if a P&G brand sponsors an athlete, we also celebrate their mom. That’s because our brands don’t just live at the finish line, they’re about the everyday journey athletes take to get to the Games, a journey that started in childhood with their moms.”

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The U.S. series of 10 films (part of 28 films globally) brings to life the daily lessons all moms teach their kids from their first steps to their first failures, and the unconditional love moms give their kids no matter what. Lindsey Vonn, who is as strong as she is beautiful (in the video you get to watch Lindsey perform a hang clean with as much precision as her slalom) talks openly about how her mom has been there for her through every championship and broken bone. Life may seem like all roses for the popular athlete, but you don’t get to compete to be the most successful ski racer ever without some serious injuries. She attributes her bravery and strength to her mother who had a stroke while delivering Lindsey. Boasting on stage, Lindsey told the audience, “She has never complained about it, not even once.” (photo credit)

Proctor & Gamble should be commended for their recognition of all mothers, who hardly ever get the glory they deserve, but nevertheless continue to put the dreams and goals of their children ahead of their own. So, thank you P&G for allowing our US athletes the opportunity to thank their moms for helping them to recognize their dreams. (photo credit)

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To view photos, videos and additional information related to the P&G Thank You, Mom campaign, visit www.facebook.com/thankyoumom  or https://www.youtube.com/user/proctergamble/custom.