Friday, October 26, 2007

P.A.R.K. in the USA

One of the great things about this job is you never know where it will take you.

This morning I was with Richard Park at SUNY-Stony Brook. Richard was given the honor of being the keynote speaker when more than 100 people took the oath to become citizens of the United States of America.

Richard has quite a story to tell: Born in Seoul, South Korea, moved to the hockey hotbed known as California with his family when he was 3, excelled enough at the game that at age 13 he moved with his sister (then 19) to the suburbs of Toronto to chase his dream of playing in the NHL. He'll play his 500th game this season.

And that's just the short version.

Richard took on the assignment of speaking at this morning's Citizenship Celebration with the zeal he displays every time he steps on the ice. He made it look easy, despite it being the first time he's ever come close to giving a talk of this magnitude. Know this: he wrote the entire speech on his own and hit the podium without even a single sheet of paper. Think that's easy for a professional athlete with a game the next day?

The line most will take from Richard's address was how lucky he and his wife feel to be able to raise a family in America. When it was over, I think Richard was surprised by how many of the new citizens wanted to take their photo with him. He made that kind of impact.

At 10:30 this morning, a suit-and-tie clad Richard Park gave an inspired talk and presented certificates to 100 new citizens of the United States. At 12:15 pm he had on his Reebok Islanders practice jersey and hit the ice for practice at Nassau Coliseum, continuing the pursuit of his American dream.

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