During the upcoming Summer Olympics, many of us will tune in on TV over the course of the 17 days to acknowledge the commitment and dedication each athlete has for his or her respective sport and the pride each American has in representing our nation.

Being an Olympian, however, doesn’t just last a few weeks, it lasts a lifetime.

Several Mainers have competed in the Olympics over the years, including 2010 Olympian Julia Clukey from Augusta.

While Clukey is a winter athlete, she continues to make us proud even during her off season. As a member of the U.S. luge team, she placed 17th at the Vancouver Games in 2010. She continues to train nearly every day, preparing now for the World Cup this winter and the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

Clukey, 27, isn’t just a world-class athlete; she also loves giving back to the community and sharing her time to help others.

Clukey has always wanted to reach out to and inspire the younger generation. Last month, Clukey was able to fulfill her desire to reach adolescent girls by hosting Julia Clukey’s Camp for Girls at Camp KV.

Her partners in this endeavor were the Kennebec Valley YMCA and the Maine Beer & Wine Distributors Association.

The distributors association provided eight of the more than 30 scholarships that were awarded to girls in financial need.

For 10 days, 94 girls entering grades 4-7 attended the new day camp on Maranacook Lake in Readfield. The camp offered a unique opportunity for kids to learn from an incredible role model, a Maine Olympian. It should come as no surprise, therefore, that the slots at the camp were filled two months before it started; there is already a waiting list for next year.

During the camp, with a curriculum designed by Clukey and the YMCA staff, the girls took part in a noncompetitive, nurturing environment that focused on character development. In addition to focusing on building self-confidence, strong social skills and a healthy lifestyle, Clukey and the counselors reinforced the core camp values of caring, honesty, respect and responsibility.

Promoting good decision-making and positive life values is the backbone of another effort in which Clukey is involved, that of spokesperson for the Maine Beer & Wine Distributors Association.

As parents, neighbors and employers, the distributors support many community initiatives that make Maine a better place to live, work and play.

Member companies have partnered with Clukey in a statewide effort to promote responsibility, focusing on educating the public about alcohol consumption. Alcohol is a product that requires regulation and responsible consumption, along with teaching young people about the consequences of underage drinking.

Clukey has recorded public service announcements and has been interviewed by local and state newspapers, TV and radio stations to talk about the importance of individual responsibility as it pertains to alcohol consumption. The distributors association has sponsored presentations by Clukey at 18 high schools throughout Maine, reaching more than 5,000 students.

Clukey tells the students about her Olympic dreams and her commitment to promote good decision-making and positive life choices.

So during the upcoming summer Olympics, let’s acknowledge and appreciate the passion and commitment that it takes to be an Olympian, both during and after the games.

To learn more about Julia’s partnership with the Maine Beer & Wine Distributors Association and the responsibility initiative, visit www.maine beerandwine.com/responsibility.

For information about Clukey and her community involvement and quest to compete in the 2014 Olympics, visit www.clukeyluge.com.

Cheryl Timberlake is executive vice president of the Maine Beer & Wine Distributors Association.

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