Olympic gymnast coming to Sylacauga
by Emily Adams
SYLACAUGA — She is a seven-time Olympic medalist, a cancer survivor, a health and wellness advocate, a television and radio host, an author and much more — and she’s coming here to share her story.

Shannon Miller, the most decorated gymnast in American history, will be the featured speaker at Coosa Valley Medical Center’s third annual Women’s Health Extravaganza on Nov. 12. The dinner, catered by Hickory Street Café, will begin at 5:30 p.m. at J. Craig Smith Community Center.

“We are so excited to have Shannon share with us,” CVMC marketing coordinator Lindsay Johns said. “Being an Olympic gold medalist is a huge accomplishment, and we’re proud to be able to bring somebody to our community with such an incredible story.”

Miller has won 59 international and 49 national competition medals and is the only U.S. gymnast to win two world all-around titles.

Her tally of five medals (two silver, three bronze) at the 1992 Olympics was the most medals won by a U.S. athlete in any sport. At the 1996 Games, Miller led the “Magnificent Seven” to the U.S. Women’s first-ever Team Gold and was the first American gymnast to win gold on the balance beam.

She is the only American to rank among the Top 10 all-time gymnasts and the only female athlete to be inducted into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame twice — as an individual in 2006 and a team in 2008.

After retiring from Olympic competition, Miller earned a law degree from Boston College and undergraduate degrees in marketing and entrepreneurship. She recently launched her own company, Shannon Miller Lifestyle: Health and Fitness for Women, which empowers women to make their health a priority through education and awareness.

In January 2011, Miller was diagnosed with a malignant germ cell tumor, a rare form of ovarian cancer. She had the baseball-sized tumor removed and followed up with nine weeks of chemotherapy. Miller, who lives in Jacksonville, Fla., with her husband and son, is now cancer free and continues to be an advocate for early detection.

Vanessa Green, CVMC chief business development officer, said Miller’s mission falls in line with the hospital’s goals for health awareness.

“Shannon is so adamant about check-ups, and to hear her story is so inspirational,” Green said. “We as women sometimes are so busy, we have a tendency to ignore our health, and this is one way Coosa Valley wants to remind women how important it is to make sure you get your annual check-ups, to make sure you keep those doctor’s appointments.

“As you’ll hear our speaker talk about, she didn’t even know anything was wrong. She just went to an annual visit, and if she had not done that her prognosis and outcome could have been so different.”

Dr. Michael Swearingen of CVMC said Miller’s story and the Women’s Health event, which is open to men as well, is a special night for the community.

“This has become a wonderful asset as an educational opportunity and as a means of emotional support to our mothers, wives, sisters and daughters who go through the frightening concern of a cancer diagnosis,” he said.

Tickets are available for $12 at the CVMC gift shop, at the door or by calling 256-401-4070. Guests are encouraged to reserve a seat or a table in advance. Miller will be available for a book signing following the dinner.

To sponsor or contribute to the event, contact Johns at 256-401-4666.

Contact Emily Adams at eadams@dailyhome.com.

© 2012