By Dave Denniston
LOVELAND, Colo. May 22. Everyone knows her as the superstar sprinter who would stare down her competition or spit in their lane before a race. When the cap and goggles were on, Amy Van Dyken had no friends, and was focused on one thing: winning. She had the ferocity of a hornets nest and often times a mouth that would get her into trouble. She won six Olympic gold medals in her career and after her last race hasn’t touched a pool.
The cap and goggles haven’t been on for six years and Amy Van Dyken is now Amy Rouen, the wife of Seattle Seahawk kicker Tom Rouen. She hosts a radio show called “The Positive Side of Sports” and uses that “mouth” on a daily basis with radio callers and various sports stars.
So what’s motivational about that? Amy and Tom also host the “Tom Rouen, Amy Van Dyken Celebrity Shootout” in which sportsman raise money for Colorado Youth Outdoors with a sporting clays shootout and auction. This fundraiser changes lives.
Colorado Youth Outdoors is a program founded by Tom and Bob Hewson of Loveland, Colorado than encourage high school teens and their parents to get involved together in the outdoors: whether it is fishing, shooting, archery or just hiking. For a kid to participate he or she MUST bring a parent or guardian with them.
Amy and Tom’s fundraiser make all of the activities that these kids and parents do together free. The children and parents don’t have to pay a membership or dues, they simply show up with an open mind and slowly create a bond with their teen that may have never been there before, or becomes much stronger than it was before.
The night of the auction several teens and parents stood up and told their story. Some of the parents couldn’t stand to be around their teen and more often than not the feelings were mutual before they started Colorado Youth Outdoors. As they told their stories audience members held back tears. The change these families make is extremely moving. Every one of them hugged at the end of their testimony and often times called each other their best friend.
Amy doesn’t spit in lanes or stare people down anymore. She winks A LOT. And she has an infectious smile. She and Tom are passionate about the positive change teens are having and the positive side of sports and the outdoors through the foundation they support Colorado Youth Outdoors.
Yes, Amy shoots sporting clays at the event. She’s not very good, but she does try.