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With Rocky Mountains behind them, Teresa stands with her arm on Toni's shoulder with big smiles on both faces

Teresa’s Gold Medal Day at the Olympic Museum

Do you have a friend who’s been there for you through it all? A person you hold in the highest regard, even when time and distance separate you?

If you’re lucky enough to say “yes,” then you’ll agree with Teresa, age 65, that friendship is one of life’s greatest gifts. And for Teresa, that person is Toni.

They met when their sons were in elementary school and played in the local T-ball and baseball leagues. Toni’s husband was in the military, and when a need arose for a new basketball coach at the military base, she encouraged Teresa to step in.

As the children bonded, a friendship between their parents also blossomed. While watching their children grow up and play sports together for years, Teresa and Toni connected over their shared values, priorities, and parenting styles. But most of all, they built deep respect and appreciation for each other. And that has remained at the core of their friendship, one that has stood the test of time.

Even though Teresa lives in Maryland and Toni is in Colorado, they have yet to let the many miles come between them. Maybe that’s because Teresa has never backed down from a challenge.

Her career was with the United States Track & Field Association, where she was a coach for the Junior Olympics. She has helped many young athletes excel on the track and accomplish their goals. One of her distance runners even made it to Nationals in her first year!

But as any athlete knows, it takes more than physical skill and talent to succeed; you also need to gain grit, determination, and the ability to endure through challenges. Teresa coached from experience, as she has faced her own challenges throughout life and persevered when times were tough.

After retirement, she wanted to remain active and found an avenue to continue giving back through the AARP Experience Corps. She volunteered as an elementary school literacy tutor for six years, helping first-grade students develop their reading comprehension skills.

Teresa is so proud of the athletes and students she’s helped grow and of the determination they showed along the way. When we heard Teresa’s story, we felt the same way, and jumped at the opportunity to recognize her for the incredible person she is today.

We planned a unique experience for Teresa at the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Museum in Colorado to honor her time as a Junior Olympics Track and Field coach. But an important guest made it even more memorable.

After almost 30 years apart, Teresa and Toni finally reconnected for a much-needed reunion in Colorado! As VIP guests, they explored the Olympic and Paralympic Museum and even received a tour led by a former Olympian.

The museum depicts the history of Team USA at the Olympic and Paralympic Games and captures the hopes and dreams of future generations of athletes.

“I loved the museum and even got to wear a real medal,” Teresa exclaimed. “I recommend everyone go to the museum. It was a really special experience.”

It was the perfect setting for the friends to reconnect. Their day was filled with smiles and laughter as they explored the interactive exhibits and engaging artifacts. And to make the reunion even more special, Toni’s son, whom Teresa had coached in basketball, accompanied them on the trip.

After returning to Maryland, Teresa shared that she felt exhausted but grateful.

“I’m tired,” she said, “but it’s the good kind of ‘happy-tired.” Just like the kind of happiness a runner feels after completing a race.

“Yes, my eyes are tired, but they are open and bright; I feel brighter,” she added. “I’m thoroughly grateful for this experience. I wouldn’t have been able to do it by myself. Thank you all.”

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