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Jennifer Sampson, Michael Johnson and Scott Moore

The Ruth Sharp Altshuler Tocqueville Society of United Way of Metropolitan Dallas welcomed legendary sprinter Michael Johnson as its May luncheon’s keynote speaker.  Johnson, winner of 13 Olympic and World Championship gold medals, entertained and inspired Tocqueville members and guests with stories of growing up in Dallas and graduating from Skyline High School, becoming a star athlete at Baylor University, and achieving unparalleled success as a 200- and 400-meter sprinter. 

“There is nothing wrong with silver and bronze medals—I just don’t have any of those,” Johnson joked as he described his Olympic success.

Part of the Tocqueville Society’s Second Tuesday Luncheon series, the event was moved to the third Tuesday in May to accommodate Johnson’s schedule as he prepares to cover the upcoming Brazil Olympics for the BBC. Those in attendance for Johnson’s talk, held at the Crescent Hotel, included a parcel of Baylor alumni, among them: Jennifer Sampson, CEO of United Way of Metropolitan Dallas; Jennifer’s parents, Gracie and Jerry Hilton; Julie and Jim Turner; Donna and Dr. Darrell Ward; and Kay and David McAtee.

Johnson is regarded as the greatest 200-meter sprinter ever and perhaps the finest athlete to come from Dallas. He told the crowd he always loved to run, even as a young child. With a nod to former Dallas Cowboy and current sports broadcaster Babe Laufenberg who was in the audience, Johnson shared how his father made him wear a Cowboys football helmet when he was little so he wouldn’t hurt his head when he was running around the house. A consistent commitment to training and practice were among the keys to his success, Johnson said. He then noted, with mock regret, that all the years of training required him to perform well for only 43 seconds.

Johnson also talked about his work with young athletes from around the world through his company, Michael Johnson Performance, and spoke about sharing a common philosophy and goals with United Way.

“I am proud to support United Way of Metropolitan Dallas. The organization does fantastic work through programs that teach young people healthy habits and promote healthy living,” he said. “That is the same approach that underlies my work with young athletes. Regardless of whether they become world-class competitors, they benefit from developing healthy habits for life. And the discipline they acquire helps them with school and also helps them meet whatever other challenges they encounter.”

Following Johnson’s remarks, he fielded questions from the audience.  One guest asked about Johnson’s daily workout routine. “I run three to four miles a day, like a normal person,” he answered, to a chorus of laughter. 

The luncheon was sponsored by PwC, a long-time supporter of United Way. Scott Moore, North Texas Managing Partner for PwC and a Tocqueville Society member, supplied the introduction of Johnson, noting that he watched a tape of the athlete’s history-making 400-meter sprint from the 1996 Atlanta Olympics in order to prepare for the luncheon. 

“Scott, I thought you were going to say you tried to run it,” Johnson later quipped.

Serving as the event’s emcee was Lisa Bottle, vice president of Corporate Affairs for Fluor Corporation and a Tocqueville Society member. Lisa welcomed members of the Society, including David T. Seaton, CEO of Fluor Corporation; Anne Motsenbocker, chair-elect of United Way of Metropolitan Dallas Board of Directors; Cecily Gooch; Sara and Gary Ahr; Abby Williams; Haven Heinrichs and Ramona Sands; Steve Durham; Deb and Robb Gibbins; Liz Minyard Lokey; and many others.

Formed in 1984 and now more than 900 members strong, United Way of Metropolitan Dallas’ Tocqueville Society aims to change lives through philanthropic leadership focused on the building blocks for a better life: a quality education that leads to stable employment, income that can support a family through retirement, and good health.  For more information, please visit www.unitedwaydallas.org.

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