Olympian and Pace Academy graduate Kenny Selmon will join storyteller Chrishaunda Lee Perez for a virtual celebration Oct. 28, to discuss resilience and mental health.

Organized by Resilient Georgia, the virtual event will run from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Mental health took a top role at the recent Tokyo Olympics. Selmon will share his story of resilience and strength, persevering through injury and the pandemic to become an Olympic athlete.

Resilient Georgia has built a statewide coalition of trauma-informed organizations by convening diverse private and public partners to build a stronger, more resilient Georgia. Their statewide coalition includes more than 700 stakeholders working to prevent adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and support healing through integrated behavioral health resources and services.

The organization’s efforts intensified almost immediately after its launch to address statewide needs in mental health, wellness and resilience during the COVID-19 crisis and the country’s racial reckoning.

“We set out to build a statewide coalition to support the resilience of children and families across our state,” executive director of Resilient Georgia Emily Anne Vall said. “This coalition aims to help Georgians from all walks of life, all races and all socioeconomic backgrounds. Kenny Selmon’s inspiring story resonates because he overcame tremendous obstacles and adverse experiences during his rise to competing as an Olympic athlete. His story exemplifies the power of resilience and having a more coordinated network of care to help foster that resilience.”

Selmon became a National Champion when he won the USA Outdoor Track & Field Championship in 2018. Later that summer he represented the United States at the 2018 Athletics World Cup in London, where he won gold in the 400 meters hurdles. Selmon attended college at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he competed in indoor and outdoor track and field.

While at UNC, he qualified for four NCAA East Preliminary Rounds and five NCAA Championships while collecting five All-America accolades, 10 AII-ACC honors and six spots in the UNC top-five all-time records. His college personal record of 48.12, which he ran at the NCAA Division I Championships in 2018, is the fastest in UNC history. To cap off his illustrious collegiate career on and off the track, UNC honored Selmon with the Patterson Medal, the highest honor UNC gives to any athlete.

After injury halted Selmon’s dreams in 2019, and the Covid-19 pandemic delayed them even further in 2020, Selmon remained focused on his goal to qualify for the 2020 Olympics Games (2021). In June, after three grueling rounds and a personal best in the final, he qualified for the 2021 U.S. Olympic team in the 400m hurdles.

A former UNC track star, Selmon fell short of advancing to the finals for the 400-meter hurdles event at the Tokyo Olympics held last month. Selmon, who was a four-time All-American while at UNC, placed second in his heat to qualify for the semifinal. He posted the fourth-fastest time in his semifinal run against seven other hurdlers, but his valiant effort (48.58 seconds) ultimately was the tenth-fastest time in the semifinal round of the event.

The online event is free and participants can register in advance at: resilientga.org. Zoom registration is also available at bit.ly/3F3iSqv.

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