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Longtime U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee employee honored with Spirit of the Springs Award

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Mayor John Suthers presented the Spirit of the Springs Celebration Award Monday, May 10 to Sherry VonRiesen, a longtime U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC) employee, during a surprise presentation at the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Training Center (USOPTC) with Sarah Hirshland, CEO of the USOPC, and several training center staff and Team USA athletes in attendance. VonRiesen, who is retiring this month after serving for more than 22 years as the Athlete Services Coordinator and unofficial Team USA “Mom,” in Colorado Springs, was honored for her extensive work in supporting and caring for Team USA athletes and her commitment to giving back to the community.

“On the day after Mother’s Day, it is only fitting for Sherry to be recognized for her work, but really her life’s role, as Team USA’s “Mom,” said Mayor John Suthers. “Whether it was celebrating Olympic and Paralympic champions when they returned from the Games, or consoling fourth-place finishers and those who may have missed the team by the smallest of margins after devoting their life to their sport, Sherry has diligently and selflessly served the thousands of athletes who have walked through the doors of the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Training Center. In doing so, she has served our community as a whole by helping athletes feel at home in Colorado Springs and finding ways for them to connect and give back to Olympic City USA.”

VonRiesen, who lives at the training center, begin working at the USOPC in 1998. She has supported and served Team USA athletes at eight Olympic and Paralympic Games – Athens 2004, Turin 2006, Beijing 2008, Vancouver 2010, London 2012, Sochi 2014, Rio de Janeiro 2016, and Pyeongchang 2018. While living at the training center, she helped connect visiting and resident athletes to resources at the training center and worked with countless community organizations in Colorado Springs to help provide opportunities for athletes.

In addition to the support she provided athletes during competitions and training, VonRiesen also coordinated countless community involvement opportunities for athletes. Among these activities are coordinating a parade float every year for the annual Festival of Lights Parade in downtown Colorado Springs; scheduling athlete visits to the Children’s Wing at UCHealth Memorial Hospital Central; connecting local schools with athletes to read to classrooms during “Read Across America” week; and arranging athlete appearances at elementary school track and field days, social outings, and keynote addresses for organizations throughout the Pikes Peak region. Other notable achievements include receiving the Women of Worth’s Spirit of Caring award in 2018, and having many national news stories published about her unique line of work, including in the New York Times, the Huffington Post and NPR.

The Office of the Mayor welcomes the opportunity to recognize exceptional individuals, like VonRiesen, and organizations within the City of Colorado Springs with a Spirit of the Springs Celebration Award. These awards are presented to recipients by the Mayor or an official designee to honor them for outstanding achievements. For more information, visit ColoradoSprings.gov/Mayors-Office.