Mr. President, today I wish to recognize the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame. Since the body's inception in 2006 and its first class of inductees in 2007, the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame has educated Alaskans and visitors, honored and preserved memories in Alaskan sports, and promoted a healthy youth population by providing activities that will inspire children to strive for success in their own lives. The Hall's mission is to teach, honor, and inspire.
Beyond that core mission, the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame has done much to promote the accomplishments of the world-class athletes in the great state of Alaska. The 23 Hall of Fame inductees through 2012 have stacked up tremendous accomplishments, but there is, perhaps above all else, a single thread that binds the inductees together: a love and respect for Alaska.
Dr. Bradford Washburn, without ever actually living in-State, was certainly an honorary Alaskan. He traversed the North Country in more than 70 trips and strapped himself into the open door of a low-flying plane for aerial photographic work of the great State of Alaska. The legendary ``Huslia Hustler,'' George Attla, was a ten-time Fur Rondy sled dog champion and motivated crowds that included a strong rivalry with Roland ``Doc'' Lombard. Carlos Boozer, born in Juneau, played for the Crimson Bears at Juneau-Douglas High School, compiling a 95 12 career record and winning back-to-back Class 4A State titles in 1997 and 1998, before moving on to be an NBA All-Star. Reggie Joule, the greatest practitioner of the blanket toss in the long history of the World Eskimo-Indian Olympics, captured more than 30 medals in the 2-foot high kick, greased pole walk, arm pull, and other events, earning the title ``Mr. Olympics.''
The Alaska Sports Hall of Fame depicts an understanding that goes beyond the basic tenets of its own stated mission. It is a way to honor the Alaskan way of life and to depict Alaskan exceptionalism. Mark Schlereth, 2008 Alaska Sports Hall of Fame inductee and 3-time Super Bowl Champion, described the Alaskan bond as special and a true source of pride.
After the sweat, the injuries, the memories, the failures and accomplishments, the true value of sport goes far beyond the statues and medals. Sport brings friends and family together it can make teammates of complete strangers. It provides youth with positive role models, promotes healthy lifestyles, and teaches life skills.
The Alaska Sports Hall of Fame reminds us of the positive attributes of sport, but equally important is highlighting and respecting the Alaskan way of life. Events such as the Iditarod, the Great Alaska Shootout, and the World Eskimo-Indian Olympics showcase the great State of Alaska and who we are as a people.
There is so much to celebrate and commemorate in Alaska. The Alaska Sports Hall of Fame provides an opportunity to demonstrate excellence in athletic endeavors by exceptional Alaskans.
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