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World's Greatest Athlete


On October 28th I spent the evening attending one of the AICCM pilot public programs. This program was on Jim Thorpe: World’s Greatest Athlete and was done as a partnership between the AICCM and the Jim Thorpe Sports Museum and Oklahoma Hall of Fame and made possible through the support of the Kirkpatrick Family Fund.

I have to say that this was one of the most enjoyable evenings I’ve had in my career. What a learning experience! To hear that someone is the greatest athlete in the world was always somewhat of a mystery to me. To know that we had a museum dedicated to this man was also somewhat of a mystery.

After last night I am thoroughly convinced of Jim Thorpe’s status as an athlete. For goodness sakes this man won a gold medal in the decathlon and pentathlon! Plus, he excelled in football and baseball and played at the major league level into his 40’s.
The program was held at the Jim Thorpe Museum. This modest and lesser know museum has a collection of 5,000 photographs and is a beautiful facility definitely worth a visit. If you’re lucky you’ll get to spend time with Justin Lenhart, the museum director, an unassuming guy with a wealth of information.

One of the highlights of my evening was getting to spend some time with Jim Thorpe’s sons, Bill and Jack Thorpe. It was an inspiration to be in the company of these humble and gracious gentlemen. While the spotlight was on their father I found it particularly special to be able to see these two men honoring their father in this unique way. I have learned that it is the “Indian way” to honor elders. I saw this in action. I was very moved.


I left the Jim Thorpe Museum with pride to be an Oklahoman and pride to be working for an American Indian project—one which is sharing first person accounts such as what I experienced, one which is telling the stories of extraordinary, down-to-earth Oklahomans.

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