An Olympic effort

Split Rock Cafe at the helm while hundreds come together to help Otisco resident and his family fulfill Olympic dream:

On Sept. 20, 2003, high school senior Lopez Lomong led his Tully High School cross country team to victory at the Auburn Invitational Meet, winning by 56 seconds over teammate and fellow Sudanese "Lost Boy" Dominic Luka.

Dan and Teresa Seeley were in the midst of creating their new restaurant and catering business, the Split Rock Caf (c) and Diamond Catering in the Taunton section of Syracuse, but on that same day, they were in Gander, Newfoundland, Canada, over 1100 miles from home, hosting a picnic for some 10,000 people.

Nearly five years later, Lomong and Dan and Teresa Seeley, who have never met, are entwined in an incredible story of love for our fellow man.

Lomong's story is well documented, from the tragedy of his youth in Sudan to his escape to America and the home of Barb and Rob Rogers in Otisco, to qualifying for the 2008 United States' Olympic team and his election by team captains as the U.S. flag bearer at the opening ceremony in Beijing.

What is less well documented, but equally inspiring, is the tale of Dan and Teresa and a community's support for one of their own.

The Seeley's trek to Gander was a response to the people of Gander's heroic effort to shelter and feed some 6500 airline passengers stranded when their planes were

grounded in Gander following the events of Sept. 11, 2001.

In 2002, after reading of Gander's generosity, the Seeley's decided that "We should feed this town." After 18 months of preparation and coordination, they made the 30-hour trip with their huge supply of food and supplies and a small army of volunteers for an eight-day stay and a picnic for some 10,000 people.

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