Every four years, more than 200 athletes represent the United States at the Winter Olympics. As a 2010 Olympian, Julia Clukey of Augusta was part of Team USA in Vancouver, where she finished 17th in the women’s luge competition.
Julia had her career-best World Cup season in 2012-13, winning two silver medals and finishing the season ranked sixth in the world. She had great momentum and high hopes going into 2014, with her ultimate goal to compete in her second Olympics this year in Sochi, Russia.
At the Olympic level, a sport can often define the life of some athletes, but that’s not the case with Julia. When Julia missed the Olympic team just a few weeks ago by an incredible .013 seconds, I wasn’t surprised with her positive response. Julia has been committed to her sport and to being a well-rounded person. In addition, she has committed herself to being a positive role model for Maine youth. During the course of her career, she has shared her story of personal determination and athletic success with people throughout Maine.
I’ve personally worked with Julia for the past four years in her role as our spokeswoman for the Maine Beer & Wine Distributors Association responsibility initiative. Since I met Julia, I’ve learned a lot about her and the sport of luge. Luge requires both physical and mental skill, as well as nerves of steel, to keep the sled on a perfect line as the racers hit speeds of more than 80 miles per hour. I also know that she continues to dedicate herself and train year-round to maintain her conditioning as a world-class athlete.
What you might not know about Julia is that since 2010, as our spokeswoman, Julia has recorded public service announcements and presented to more than 9,000 students at 34 high schools across the state about the importance of responsibility, goal setting and good decision making. She has traveled more than 2,000 miles across Maine to share her inspirational message (complete with a highlight video of her luge career), talk one-on-one with students and autograph posters for them. This spring, she will continue to present at high schools and share her story of overcoming life’s challenges.
Our association is also proud to sponsor her camp, Julia Clukey’s Camp for Girls at Camp KV, on Maranacook Lake in Readfield. During the past few years of working with the great staff at the Kennebec Valley YMCA, Julia has dedicated more than 300 hours to fundraising, planning and directing at the camp for girls ages 8-11. This June marks the third year for the camp, where Julia and the team at the YMCA provide an opportunity for girls to develop self-confidence and a healthy lifestyle.
In addition to her work with our association, Julia makes personal community appearances on her own time during the course of the year at local middle schools, in parades or at community fundraisers. Her involvement in the community of Augusta and in other Maine communities is refreshing and heartwarming.
The eight family-owned distributors of our association are extremely proud to support Julia 110 percent. Simply put, community heroes like her don’t just come along every four years.
The association is proud to provide the opportunity for high schools across the state to request an inspirational presentation from Julia, where she will share her story and message about individual responsibility and good decision making. The presentations are provided by our association at no cost to the schools. Administrators can sign up today to request a presentation on her website at clukeyluge.com/responsibility.
Members of our association believe that while her sport is measured in thousandths of a second, the true measure of Julia, both personally and professionally, is in who she is as a person — an outstanding role model that we can all learn from.
Cheryl Timberlake is executive vice president of the Maine Beer & Wine Distributors Association.