OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) — Supporters of the Salvation Army of Central Oklahoma came together at its annual dinner event Tuesday at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum.
KFOR’s Kevin Ogle served as master of ceremonies.
Three-time Olympian Lolo Jones was the featured speaker, sharing her journey from growing up in Des Moines, Iowa, to her motivations for success as an award-winning athlete in both track and field and bobsledding.
“What’s always kept me stable is my faith and habits…habits will always keep you grounded when things are going crazy,” said Jones.
Just a small percentage of athletes have participated in both the Winter and Summer Games in the history of the games, with just a few winning a medal at both competitions.
Jones told KFOR she thought she’d be retired by now, but at 41 years old, she shows no signs of slowing down.
Jones said she’s training in hopes of earning a spot in the upcoming Summer Olympics, in Paris.
“I thought I’d be retired by now, but my coach is like, ‘let’s give it. [this] last push’. Al I know is my body’s still able to run,” she said.
“I’m still able to physically do this and mentally love it. Not burned out. So why not?”
While her successes as an award-winning athlete are widely known, fewer know Lolo Jones grew up homeless.
“I was raised in a Salvation Army church basement because we had nowhere to go. My Christmas presents came from the Salvation Army,” said Jones in an exclusive interview with KFOR.
“A lot of our meals, because we couldn’t afford food for came from their food pantry, their canteen trucks. So I have lived and breathed the Salvation Army,” she added.
Jones’s experiences with poverty were the result of an unstable family environment; she said her father was in and out of prison for most of her childhood and her mom worked multiple jobs to help keep the family afloat.
“[People know] The Salvation Army [things] like homelessness and drug addition, but they’re forgetting the kid element. They’re forgetting the kid element,” she said, adding that the organization sponsored camps she was able to take advantage of while growing up.
“I was just able to just go there and have fun, relax. And those are some of my best moments as a kid,” said Jones.
Jones said a past trip through OKC brought back flashbacks of how far she has come on her journey.
“[I was] struggling college athlete [thinking] maybe I’ll never make an Olympic team to now one of the few that have competed in a Summer [and Winter] Olympics and sharing my story to help encourage other people,” she said.
“What’s propelled me is always overcoming failures and obstacles.”
The Salvation Army provides food services, emergency financial aid, emergency shelter and more to communities across Central Oklahoma, Canadian, Cleveland, Logan, McClain and Oklahoma counties.