Speakers find the ‘Strength of the Human Spirit’
Park City Speaker Series: Carlie Judd Hardy, Holly Flanders and Molly Bice Jackson 6 p.m., Tuesday, March 12 Park City Library’s Jim Santy Auditorium, 1255 Park Ave. Free
Parkites Carlie Judd Hardy, Holly Flanders and Molly Bice Jackson believe everyone has a story to tell, and more often than not, these stories can entertain, inspire and bring a community together.
This belief is why the three will participate in the second installment of the Park City Speaker Series, a free evening of storytelling that life coach Terry Sidford started in November. The new installment will start at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, March 12, at the Park City Library’s Jim Santy Auditorium.
The theme of the evening is “Strength of the Human Spirit,” and the three women have all gone through life-changing experiences that have pushed them beyond their perceived limits, Hardy said.
“When we go through experiences that test our limits, we find we are much stronger than what we are,” she said.
Hardy will speak of her experience running in the Wasatch 100 endurance race in the stead of her then-husband, an athlete. Flanders will speak about her career as a world-class ski racer and Jackson will relate how she was able to cope with the death of her two-year-old daughter.
“While each of our stories are different, there is a thread of connection that binds them all together,” she said.
Hardy’s story is the topic of her upcoming book, “Spirited: 100 Mile Run to Save a Life.” In 1994, her then-husband David was “over the top obsessed” with running the endurance race, having completed it four times.
The 100-mile endurance race, which charts a course from Kaysville to Midway, has been held every weekend after Labor Day since 1985.
While on a training run, David, whose father had died of a heart attack at 42, reported a constrictive feeling in his chest and that he couldn’t breathe, Hardy said.
“I knew it was angina,” she said. “So six weeks before the start of what he had planned to be his next race, I asked if he’d like to me to take his place, while he underwent open-heart surgery.”
David agreed, and Hardy, who had only run two marathons, was left with only 42 days to train for the Wasatch 100.
“That’s the set up for my own willingness to ask ‘What was I made of?’ and ‘What could I really do?’” she said.
Although an unlikely finisher, Hardy completed the race even after taking a wrong turn at the 85th mile.
“The race became literally one foot in front of the other, but I felt I did it with a lot of passion and caring,” she said.
Like Hardy, Holly Flanders was an unlikely competitor. Unlike Hardy, Flanders’ course was down a snowy mountain. She represented the U.S. ski racing team at two World Championships and at the 1980 and 1984 Winter Olympic Games.
Over her career, she won three World Cups and racked up 27 top-ten finishes.
Flanders said she worked hard to rise from the bottom of the standings to winning at the World Cup level, race by race.
“When I reflected on how I did that, I realized that I had made a series of decisions along the way,” she said. “I noticed what it took for me to go from worst to best, and it’s something that all people can do. There are steps that people can take to do that.”
Flanders said she will reveal the first of those seven decisions during her presentation.
“It is the first step in how people can become the best at what matters most to them,” she said.
Flanders is also working on a memoir, titled “Going Downhill Fast.”
“It’s about my story about moving up through the ski racing ranks,” she said. “I analyzed what I did and what other people have done to become the best at what they want to do, and I’m using that in my book.”
Jackson’s story is much different than Flanders’ and Hardy’s stories, but the strength of the human spirit theme ties it together with the others.
“Ten years ago, my two-year-old daughter, Lucia, choked on and apple and died in a church parking lot, and it “It became clear that the only way that I would survive that experience was through my relationships and genuine connections with others,” she said. “Not everyone can relate to the trauma of losing child, but they can relate how a genuine connection with others can improve our lives.”
Jackson’s talk is about how to create these connections.
“I talk about why connection is important, why we need it and how to implement it,” she said.
Human connection isn’t a luxury but a necessity, according to Jackson.
“The connection I’m talking about isn’t business networking, it’s the relationship you have with others,” she explained. “If we haven’t faced hard times, we will. And whether it’s about a struggling business or struggling relationship, our connections matter.”
After Lucia died, Jackson began writing a blog titled “Hope Smiling Brightly,” and speaking about her experience. She has been invited to share her story with youth groups and for the Intermountain Donor Services. Last summer she spoke at the Transplant Games Of America that were held in Utah.
Like the other two speakers, Jackson is writing a book about connections.
“It’s about how our experiences are tied together, and I’m very comfortable with sharing my story, because it’s a part of me,” she said. “I hope it edifies those who hear it.”
All three speakers hope more local speakers, authors and leaders will be able to give their own presentations at future Park City Speaker Series events.
“The speeches will be given quarterly, and the idea is to bring in high caliber – and mostly local – speakers to showcase what talent lives here,” Hardy said. “We are wanting to get into the TED talk arena, so this is how we can work on our talks.”
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