“Bravery, Courage and Determination.”
That’s the theme for the third annual “Celebrate Women 2019,” featuring an inspiring keynote address by PFC Jessica Lynch, U.S. Army, on Thursday, March 21, at the Shannon Hall Theater on the Ohio University Eastern campus.
Sponsored by EQT, “Celebrate Women 2019” is free and open to the public. A networking and social hour, featuring complimentary hors d’oeuvres and refreshments, will begin at 4 p.m., followed by a panel discussion by local leaders at 4:50 p.m., and the keynote address at 5:40 p.m.
Lynch will also be available to meet with attendees afterward during a book signing.
“We are most thankful for the commitment of EQT,” said E. J. Schodzinski, director of external relations at Ohio University Eastern. “Because of their support, we have been able to put together a program that will build on our momentum from the last couple of years. I am really looking forward to this year’s event.”
“Engaging in conversations where women can celebrate and learn from shared experiences is an important element in helping to encourage inclusive communities,” said Ellen Rossi, EQT Foundation manager. “We are excited to bring this opportunity to Belmont County.”
“This celebration has been made possible by the generosity of EQT and also by the support of so many campus and community groups coming together to recognize bravery, courage and determination in its many forms,” said Ohio University Eastern Dean Bob Klein. “We are most appreciative of everyone’s enthusiasm and welcome everyone’s participation.”
The community event is also sponsored by many campus organizations at Ohio University Eastern including the Athletic Department, Cultural Life & Diversity Committee, Dean’s Office, Development Advisory Board, Education Club, Student Services Department and Wallflower Alliance.
Local community sponsors include the Junior League of Wheeling, St. Clairsville Area Chamber of Commerce and the YWCA Wheeling.
Sponsors from the Athens Campus include: the Ohio University’s Women’s Center, OHIO Alumni Association, ohiowomen, and Veterans and Military Student Services Center.
According to Schodzinski, the panel discussion will feature local women who found the strength to prevail over life’s obstacles. This year’s panelists are Amy Gamble, Loma Nevels, Stephanie O’Donnell and Vivienne Padilla.
“The topics will highlight the ways our panelists have used bravery, courage and determination to overcome barriers such as discrimination, family tragedy, major illness, health and mental concerns, parenting stressors, safety, and other issues,” Schodzinski said. “The panelists are looking forward to sharing their stories and the audience will be encouraged to join in and participate in the discussion.”
The keynote speaker, Jessica Lynch, is a former Private First Class (PFC) in the United States Army and a former prisoner of war.
On March 23, 2003, Lynch was injured and captured by Iraqi forces after her unit was ambushed in Iraq. She was rescued after nine days in captivity on April 1, 2003, by U.S. special operations forces. Her rescue was the first successful rescue of an American POW since World War II. Lynch has been awarded the Bronze Star, Purple Heart and Prisoner of War medals.
Lynch plans to speak about how she overcame her obstacles and how perseverance helped her to survive despite the most difficult circumstances. Her talk will also focus on the importance of keeping a positive outlook and her belief that determination can truly help everyone to live fulfilling lives and accomplish goals.
Lynch has appeared on ABC’s Good Morning America, NBC’s Today Show, CBS’ Morning Show, The Late Show With David Letterman, CNN, HLN, Fox News, Hallmark’s Home and Family and E! News, and has been featured in People, Glamour, Time and Newsweek.
Along with being a motivational speaker, she is a mother and an educator.
According to Schodzinski, Lynch is looking forward to the event and has agreed to stay afterward to interact with the audience and sign her book “I am a Soldier, Too: The Jessica Lynch Story.”
“We are encouraging people to register as soon as possible because space is limited, and we are also assigning numbers as they come in for the book signing opportunity as well,” he said. “Our goal is to fill our theater with a diverse crowd of women and men for this celebration, and I am happy to report that we are well on our way to accomplishing this objective.”
Ohio University’s Eastern Campus is located off I-70, just west of the Ohio Valley Mall in St. Clairsville.