Bonnie Blair of Champaign, Illinois was inducted into the United States Olympic Hall of Fame in 2004. Bonnie is the most decorated United States winter Olympian of all time. She represented the United States in speed skating on the teams of 1984 in Sarajevo, 1988 in Calgary, 1992 in Albertville, and 1994 in Lillehammer. While she did not win any medal at the age of 19 during her first Winter Olympics in 1984, she kept on working.
During the next three Olympic Games, she won five gold medals and one bronze medal in races at 500 meters and 1,000 meters. Even after the close of the 1994 Winter Olympics, Blair set another world record for 500 meters and was the first woman to complete the event in under 39 seconds. On March 18, 1995 In her last race before retiring from competition, Blair set the new American record for 1,000 meters at one minute, eighteen and point zero five seconds. Bonnie's story in an inspiring one for her determination and hard work. She is also a cheerful and optimistic person. ESPN recently said, she is special and does not know it. Bonnie was born in Cornwell, New York on March 18, 1964 and raised in Champaign, Illinois. She graduated from Centennial High School in Champaign in 1982.
One day during her senior year at Centennial High School, Bonnie paid a visit to Champaign Police Sgt. Jerry Schweighart who was the juvenille officer at the school. Schweighart had an open door policy. Students did not have to be in trouble to come to see him. Bonnie was not in trouble when she came to see him but she did need help. She explained to Sgt. Schweighart that to participate in overseas speed skating competition in Europe leading up to the Olympics, she needed $7,000 she did not have. Sgt. Schweighart and his colleague Sgt. Dan Strand listened to Bonnie's pitch. The two officers later admitted publicly that they were not even exactly sure just what "speed skating" was. But Bonnie's enthusiasm and sincere demeanor sold them. She sounded like the kind of youthful role model that the Champaign Police Youth Benevolent Fund should get behind. The officers told Bonnie, "You go skate and let us worry about the money." They raised $7,500 for Bonnie that first year and kept on raising other sums of money to help Bonnie train in Milwaukee and go to Europe for the 1984 Winter Olympics. The people and stores of her home town got behind Bonnie in a big way to help her follow her dreams and she never forgot it. In 2006 Bonnie Blair was hired by Coca Cola as a spokesperson for its "Live It" nutrition and fitness program for middle school students. Bonnie is married to one of her former U.S. teammates, David Cruikshank, who was also a speed skater over shorter distances. Bonnie today makes a living as a motivational speaker. She donates her time to a variety of charities under the umbrella work of The Bonnie Blair Charitable Fund.