by Michael Rukavina
November 30, 2010
Just over two years ago, the Fredonia-Dunkirk and surrounding communities pulled together in support of Fredonia's own Jenn Stuczynski as she competed in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.From T-shirts to lawn signs and even through the formation of a volunteer-based community group eager to celebrate, it was "Stuczynski Fever" and everyone was catching it.
Just last week, the celebration came full circle. With a lump of funds generated from the sale of Stuczynski merchandise, the Fredonia Olympic Celebration Committee was able to support the Stuczynski family in their travels to see their daughter bring home the Silver in China, helped create a scholarship for high school seniors at Fredonia and Dunkirk, and most recently erected and completed the monument and flagpole in Barker Common in downtown Fredonia.
"The flag pole and monument was an idea that came from the first brainstorming session on how our community was going to celebrate Jenn Stuczynski's road to the Olympics. The Fredonia Olympic Celebration Committee gathered on July 12, 2008 with a lot of ideas and community pride," Fredonia Olympic Celebration Committee coordinator Julie Essek said during a gathering last week.
"The pole and monument was just an idea thrown out to the group at the first meeting; now, two years later here we are."
A few members of the Olympic Committee along with Mark and Sue Stuczynski gathered before the flag pole just behind the Information Booth in the Barker Common to raise two flags, that of the United States of America and an Olympic flag in honor of Jenn.
"It's just been a beautiful ending to the very good work that was started by the Olympic Committee," Mark Stuczynski said. "They worked really hard and this is the final phase of it and we're just so thankful as a family that they honored our family and our daughter especially and her husband at this. It has been a real thrill for us."
The construction of the pole could not have been accomplished without some volunteer work done by area businesses. AD Titus Monument created the monument and Tadt Concrete donated their time and materials for the concrete work; BECC Electric donated their time and materials for the pole lighting; and Paradis Fence and Flag installed the pole and locking system.
"As you pass by the pole you may notice that a silver ball decorates the top of Jenn's Pole. The silver ball was placed in recognition of her silver medal that was won at the 2008 Beijing Olympics," Essek said before those gathered. "As Jenn continues her quest, we have prepared for her continued success. The ball can be exchanged for another color if need-be."
"We knew there were going to be some signs and stuff but we never knew it was going to culminate to all of this. We're just overwhelmed as a family," Mark said of the concluding celebration.
"Everyone has been great," Sue added. "They've kept in contact and kept us up on everything that was going on and they finished it to the end. They put a lot of work into it."
While the Fredonia Olympic Celebration Committee was able to generate a huge amount of support in a matter of only a few summer months, their efforts and Jenn's success will continue to live on through the flag pole and monument.
"Jenn's Olympic success will be celebrated and recognized for many years to come, with this pole and monument in our most visible area of our town," Essek concluded. "The community pride that has surrounded her accomplishments has been wonderful. As her parents raise the flags on this pole today our final installment of that pride is most evident."
The scholarship in Stuczynski's name is through the Northern Chautauqua Community Foundation. The first scholarship was granted this year to Allison Stull.
"We've really been hands off with the scholarship, they put it into the hands of the people who are entrusted to that," Mark said. "We know every year that Dunkirk and Fredonia are awarded with that scholarship and we're just thankful that they've done that and hopefully can help some kids achieve their goals too."
And as to whether or not we can hope to see a gold ball placed atop the flag pole, Mark said the goal for Jenn is the 2012 Olympics.