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Sen. Hershman: Lafayette Icon, Olympian Honored at Statehouse

STATEHOUSE (March 20, 2014) — Lafayette icon Ray Ewry was recently recognized by the Indiana General Assembly for his status as one of the most successful Olympians of all time. State Sen. Brandt Hershman (R-Buck Creek) authored Senate Resolution 60, which requests that a highway section be renamed for Ewry.

Born in 1873, Ewry grew up in Lafayette and was orphaned at the age of five. When he was seven years old, he was diagnosed with polio and was told he would never be able to walk again. However, Ewry persevered, and with the help of a physical therapist, he worked hard to strengthen his legs. Soon, he was able to stand and walk again.

Ewry went on to lead the Purdue University varsity track team to its first national title, breaking multiple records along the way. He then competed in the Olympics in 1900, 1904, 1906 and 1908, winning every event he participated in for a total of 10 gold medals. That makes him among the most successful Olympians of all time – second only to Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps’ 11 gold medals.

Ewry’s accomplishments went beyond his role as an athlete. He used his engineering degree from Purdue to build dams and reservoirs for the New York Board of Water Supply. Today, these structures still supply water to a city of more than 8 million residents.

To honor his legacy, the Indiana General Assembly approved SR 60, urging the Indiana Department of Transportation to rename a section of U.S. Highway 231 the “Ray Ewry Memorial Highway.”

 “This is just a small way we can honor the long-standing legacy of a Hoosier icon,” Hershman said. “Ray Ewry defied the odds to become a successful athlete and engineer. It’s a story in which we can all find inspiration.”