PARIS — Keynote speaker Allison Melangton told hundreds of Oxford Hills Chamber of Commerce members that they should strive to make an impact on a young person.
“You never know what will stick with them,” said Melangton at the annual Chamber awards dinner Saturday night at the Four Seasons Function Center in Paris. The dinner is held each year to recognize the outstanding contributions of Oxford Hills businesses and individuals.
Melangton, 51, an Auburn native, is considered one of the most powerful women in sports management. She served as president and CEO of the 2012 Indianapolis Super Bowl Host Committee and is a Sports Emmy Award-winning producer of seven Olympic Games and an associate producer of the gymnastics competition.
Melangton spoke of the many mentors she has had throughout her life, starting with her father, Norman Cummings, who told her to sidestep up a local ski slope that had no chairlift or tow. The arduous climb would take about an hour and it was difficult, she said, but the several minutes it took to ski down the hill was worth it. “The result was fantastic,” she said.
“When the climb looks steep, I think about sidestepping up the hill,” she said.
A former Edward Little High School cheerleader, Melangton graduated from the Auburn school in 1979 and later from the University of Colorado where she was a gymnast. She got involved in coaching and judging, and began working for USA Gymnastics and the Olympics. When USA Gymnastics moved to Indianapolis in 1983, she moved there. She and her husband now have a son in college.
In addition to her father, Melangton recalled many other mentors in her life, including her middle school math teacher, her high school and college gymnastic coaches and professional colleagues.
She spoke about her seventh-grade math teacher at the middle school in Auburn who stuck with her when she was failing math. Years later, when faced with a $30 million budget to operate the Super Bowl, she said she was taken aback but then remembered what her teacher taught her: that she could do it. So she did and turned a $1 million surplus for the game.
“Mentoring is a critical part of what young people become,” she said.
Despite a busy life, Melangton said she loves coming home to Maine. “There's no place like Maine,” she said.
Following Melangton's speech, Chamber Executive Director John Williams presented the winner of the 2013 Business and Community Awards to the Oxford casino for 2013 Business of the Year; the 2013 Employee of the Year to Steve Holbrook, a teacher at Oxford Hills Christian Academy; the 2013 Rising Star of the Year to ServiceMaster Fire and Water Restoration of Oxford; and the 2013 Community Service Award to the Responsible Pet Care staff.