When the news broke late last week that Stevens Point native and three-time Olympian Suzy Favor Hamilton has worked as high-class escort for the past year or so, people around here were obviously shocked.
Many of us know her, and many of us are very fond of her. She put the spotlight on Stevens Point during her Stevens Point Area Senior High School, University of Wisconsin-Madison and Olympic running days. In high school during the early 1990s, I remember my friends – all cross country runners – talking about her and her many running accomplishments with pride. If a Wisconsin runner could do these things, then they could, too.
Favor Hamilton has returned to the area on numerous occasions as a celebrity spokesperson at sporting events such as Walk Wisconsin and the Run Bike Duathlon, bringing with her a spark of enthusiasm that has encouraged local athletes and non-athletes to keep working harder. At Walk Wisconsin the past two years she could easily make people smile by encouraging people to dance to the music as they crossed the finish line, and her motivational workout before the Run Bike Duathlon had nearly everyone fired up for the endeavor they were about to endure.
While I don’t know her to the extent many local people might know her, especially her friends and family who still live here, I’ve had the privilege of interviewing her in stories to promote these events and at these events themselves. As someone in the media spotlight for many years, she’s always been able to give me the type of quote journalists like.
Yet, something about her has always made her seem at a distance from those like me who don’t really know her on a personal basis. This disconnect was difficult to describe at the time, but in hindsight it probably had a lot to do with what she has said she’s been struggling with for years, including during her prime running career – depression.