Recognizing the Rhody Olympians

Published on July 11th, 2016

For US Sailing Team Sperry members Stu McNay (Providence, RI) and Louisa Chafee (Warwick, RI), standing on the podium at the Rio Games will earn them more than an Olympic medal…

Fellow motorists honk their horn and wave at Lynne Jewell-Shore, of Newport, on her daily commute to work these days. It’s not her car that’s grabbing attention, but the Olympic rings on her new Rhode Island license plate.

A sailing gold medalist at the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea, Jewell-Shore is one of four Rhode Island residents who picked up brand-new Olympic Medal Winner license plates last month, just in time for the excitement of this year’s Summer Games in Brazil.

“They beep and give me a thumbs-up. It’s very exciting,” Jewell-Shore said. “It’s not easy to be able to use the Olympic rings, so that they did this for us is a big deal.”

One of many special vehicle registration plates issued in Rhode Island, the Olympic tags were the brainchild of former Republican state Sen. David Bates, who sponsored a bill authorizing the plates in 2014, but it took two years for the designs to hit the streets.

To get a Rhode Island Olympic medal-winner plate, you have to have won gold, silver or bronze and have a car registered in your name at a Rhode Island address. The Division of Motor Vehicles’ Chuck Hollis designed the special plate and the agency had a dozen of them made, at around $4 apiece, said spokesman Paul Grimaldi. There is no cost to the Olympians.

The Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame lists 40 inductees who competed in the Olympics and more than 20 who won medals, although many are no longer living here, or have died. The list does not include some of the more recent Olympians.

Grimaldi said the DMV reached out to as many medal winners as staff could find, but only four responded.

Along with Stone (plate number 1) and Jewell-Shore (2), the other Olympic medal winners who claimed a plate were two teammates on the 1998 women’s gold-medal-winning ice hockey team: Vicki Movsessian-Lamoriello (3) and Sara DeCosta-Hayes (5).

“It is both an honor and a pleasure to provide these former Olympians with a small symbol of our recognition for their rare accomplishments,” said DMV Administrator Walter Craddock in an email statement. “We look forward to issuing more such commemorative plates to other Olympic medal winners who make Rhode Island their home.”

Bates said part of the motivation behind creating a special medal-winners plate was to make sure Olympians are not forgotten once the games are over. “I felt it was reasonable to recognize these people not just in the year of the Olympics, but afterward, if they stayed in Rhode Island,” Bates said.

Jewell-Shore said she is still getting used to the attention the Olympic plate brings, but is enjoying it. “I think the idea that Rhode Island even considered it for us is great,” she said.

Source: Patrick Anderson, Providence Journal

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