Two-time Olympic medalist Hollis Conway thanked business leaders during the Youngsville Chamber of Commerce's ninth-annual banquet this week and reminded them there's more work to be done.
Conway, a high jumper for Team USA who took home a silver medal in the 1988 Olympic Games and a bronze medal in the 1992 games, spoke to hundreds during Tuesday night's banquet at the Youngsville Sports Complex Recreation Center.
"You want to know what helped me to become successful?" he asked the room. "Local businesses."
Conway talked about his humble beginnings in Chicago and later Shreveport. He said he often ate bologna sandwiches as a child at a friend's family-owned store.
"You never know what somebody's going through, but by being there, you'll discover it," Conway said. "What you do is vitally important. And I encourage you to do more. Don't stop. Celebrate now, but the day after the Olympics ended, I start thinking about getting ready for the next year. Don't stop. It's vitally important. You're making a difference in this community. You're making a difference in people's lives."
Before Conway took the stage, Youngsville Mayor Ken Ritter spoke about the city's success in recent years.
People questioned why Youngsville needed its own sports complex and leadership program, Ritter said. They questioned addressing drainage issues when surrounding areas weren't taking the same initiatives, and they questioned losing money by waiving permit fees for new businesses, he said.
"Well," Ritter said. "Margaret Thatcher once said, 'Don't follow the crowd. Let the crowd follow you.'"
Youngsville's population has exploded in recent years — jumping from 8,267 in 2010 to 13,424 in 2017, according to U.S. Census data.
Conway, who now serves as the assistant director of diversity, leadership and education for the UL Ragin' Cajuns football team, reminded Youngsville leaders that success hasn't yet been fully realized.
"Build more businesses, build more communities," Conway said. "Love people more, help people more, support people more. Do it as a community. Expand beyond and grow. You're not there yet. Continue to look, continue to pursue."
These are the four things Conway said made him and other Olympians successful:
- Vision: "You have to see it before you see it or you'll never see it. You have to see success before you're successful or you'll never be successful."
- Decision: "Do the things that make you successful, and don't do the things that won't make you successful."
- Plan: "Things happen a lot faster with a plan than when you don't have a plan."
- Hard work: "It's not where you start. It's where you finish."
In addition to Conway's speech, Tuesday's banquet included an introduction to the inaugural Leadership Youngsville class and awards presentation to local leaders.
Awards went to Acadiana Bottling Company for Business of the Year; Pam Arceneaux, branch manager of Hancock Whitney Youngsville, for Member of the Year; John C. Broussard, a local developer, for the Civic Award; and Landon Boudreaux for the Scholarship Award.
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