Bernie Gardner, the head coach of the Honeoye Falls-Lima Cross Country Race Team, always tells the athletes that winning a race is much more than being the first person across the line – that doesn’t win it for the team. The team is what wins it for the team. The people who place, the people who displace the other runners, the teammates that train together, the fans who cheer, the families that host pasta parties. That’s what it takes to win a cross country race.
When we started this journey in the tail end of March, the task of voting seemed pretty easy – just press a button. But it became abundantly clear in the following days that voting was going to be much less casual than that. During the entire month of April, many, many people contributed to the voting efforts. Many of the voters were teammates, family friends, and the HFL community.
But there were a lot of voters who weren’t – some people have never even met Jenna. These are people who believed in her story, or were friends of friends of Jenna. People who sacrificed their time to vote for Jenna’s story. And here’s the thing – everyone made a difference.
When the dust settled at 9PM on Saturday night (when the polls closed), Jenna was ahead by 30,000 votes. The official announcement was made Monday morning at 10:00 AM - Jenna had won. And at first, 30,000 seems ridiculously large. But, when looking at the numbers for the whole month, 30,000 votes is nothing. It is a drop in the bucket.
The point is this – of all the people who voted, if only a few had decided not to, Jenna’s story would not have been as successful. The effort was widespread, indeed. It started the first night that the video was posted – an HFL alumni (now at Clarkson) voted hundreds of times (instead of studying for an exam). Over the month, there was a die-hard voter in California, and another in Illinois. In the Midwest, there was a contingency in Colorado, and an alum in Ohio who voted non-stop for two entire weeks. Representing the East, there were religious voters in Connecticut and Pennsylvania, as well. One person in New Hampshire commandeered a computer lab and managed a voting campaign there. Another person in Boston made significant contributions to the effort. One girl, who had no attachment to Jenna or Honeoye Falls, spent all day Saturday sequestered in a computer lab. And another guy who had never met Jenna ran a campaign in Geneseo. Not to mention the steadfast dedication that people in the immediate Honeoye Falls community demonstrated. There was a pizza party in a computer lab at school, days of endless voting from teammates, friends and family. In the last few hours, when voting was remarkably competitive, teammates of Jenna stepped up and helped protect the dwindling lead – truly demonstrative of the true meaning of "teammate".
And there are probably even more voters that are not recognized here or may never even be rightfully acknowledged. Jenna and her family are touched that people from all over have supported her in this contest – even people she doesn’t know and may never meet.
The official slogan for Jenna’s campaign, “It takes a community to make a champion”, initially sounded cliché and cheesy. But looking back on the hard work and dedication put forth by so many people over the last month, those words really ring true. The community, though distributed across the country, had common roots in ideology. At the end of the day, because of the multitude of reasons that people voted, the Jenna Hanson Story community is responsible for making her video a success. Each and every person involved. Every single vote counted in this endeavor.
Not surprisingly, Bernie was right. Turns out that it wasn’t the person who voted the most that makes the difference – it is the hundreds of people voting for Jenna that made the video a success. Just like racers in a race that displace athletes from other teams, every single vote that was cast helped defray the votes from other teams.
A giant “Thank-you” comes from the hearts of Jenna and her family.
Job well done, Team Jenna!
Coca Cola and the Rochester Press-Radio Club dub Jenna a Hometown Hero!
HFL Insider Article
This is from HFL's community publication (page 3).
YNN's Anne Lithiluxa airs a great piece about Jenna's long journey.
Channel 8 Follow Up
John Kucko follows-up after Jenna wins!
USA Today Article!
USA Today published the article in print and online. Check it out!
Cory Hepola did a PHENOMENAL job capturing Jenna's spirit
Donna MacKenzie wrote up a nice piece about Jenna's experience in the Sentinel.
NYSSRA Nordic XC Sums up Jenna's Story
Larry Wilkinson talks about skiing, Jenna, Bill Koch and trampolines.
Fleet Feet of Rochester give a nod to Jenna in the latest newsletter
A local running store that specializes in thorough, knowledgeable and friendly service, Fleet Feet has been responsible for cultivating and enhancing the runninng culture in the Greater Rochester area. When Boots and Ellen promote Jenna, you KNOW it's a big deal!
FasterSkier.com blogs about Jenna
Fasterskier.com, the go-to website for all skiing news, posted a blog about Jenna and the competition.
to the Finish Line: An Interview With Jenna
Talented sportswriter and president of the Association for Women in Sports Media,
Amy Moritz captures the heart and spirit of Jenna precisely in this interview.