Please Leave Your Gold In Rio

What do the Olympics mean to you?
REWIND: I unexpectedly and happily worked with the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, NY. You know, the year when our Hockey Dream Team beat the Russians! In the process, I learned that the Olympics historically meant a “total celebration of man.”

For the first time in Olympic history, the arts were celebrated with 13 events in Lake Placid. I was part of the civic team that brought these same performances to the neighboring city of Plattsburgh, NY. This would later launch my non-profit career.

NOW: Today much of the world is basking in the glow of the Opening Ceremonies of the Summer Olympics in Rio. Today marks a departure for me.

As a visionary woman all my life,
I COULD NOT celebrate watching the Opening Ceremonies or Games with a price tag of $40 million+ for JUST the opening ceremonies.*

My sad heart can only think of how SOME of this money could have been better used to help eliminate the suffering of  one million+ of impoverishedBrazilian people and children. Did you know that “22.03 percent of the 6,323,037 residents of Rio de Janeiro live in favelas, or ‘substandard’ and irregular housing communities?” 

I have lived alongside poverty. Yet I have only a GLIMPSE…
I have known as a classroom teacher how to share the day with students in Selma, AL and Honduras who had not eaten in 24 hours or more.
I have known as the spiritual tour guide for the Bali VisionQuest, the gratitude from the orphanages for our 1,120 pounds of donation cargo.
I have known as a single mom living for five years in Honduras–the poorest country in Central America— the struggle of living on $600 a month while raising my adoptive daughter. (Because of my degrees, I was one of the highest paid teachers.)
I have known as a traveler to see joy in the largest slum of 60,000 in Gujurat, India, and play with children at a school started by Gandhi followers.
I have known as a single mom the challenge of stretching a package of hot dogs into four meals for two.
I have known as a survivor how to live with my heat and water turned off for days and weeks.
I have known…a drop of poverty. 
Maybe you have, too. 
And nothing like the tsunami of poverty that Rio’s poor
have known every day.
I CAN enthusiastically celebrate the efforts of all the individuals who worked beyond hard to arrive there–a dream come true. BRAVA!

FAST FORWARD: I, too, have an Olympic dream. It started by writing this blog post which I hope YOU will share. After the games, I pray that Olympians and spectators near and far will do something in sacred service. I pray that all will choose to help the children and people of Rio from whom the millions of dollars were taken from their mouths to put on the Summer Olympics.  
Passionately, I ask…please leave your gold in Rio. 

Let us BE LOVE— the title of my dear friend’s new book. In it, Dr. Debra Reble shares insights and actions you can NOW take.

“To whom much is given, from him much is expected.” Luke 12:48, King James Version.

Join the Conversation


  1. I watched the Opening Ceremonies, too, and was blown away by the creative artistic atmosphere that was created to wow the world. It must have appeared like a tropical wonderland to all the participants regardless of the varying economic states of their own countries or their refugee status. "Take home seeds," they urged. "Grow trees. Slow down climate change with your worldwide cultivation of vegetative resources."
    The most beautiful flowers from the rainforests are orchids. Lovely, fragile and relatively inedible. Food crop cultivation is another matter. Impressions of bedazzlement will last long in millions of memories. Hopefully tourists, participants, and their retinues will leave enough of their "gold" in Brazil to help fill its civic coffers; however, with Brazil' governmental organization in limbo, don't count on it balancing their budget.

  2. Thank you, Charlotte, for your keen perspectives as always! You've shared a road map that many countries, including Brazil could follow…and as your said, it's all about our leaders and government.

  3. I hear you, Lore. I feel the same way. I love home design and used to get Architectural Digest Magazine. Until I just couldn't anymore. I just couldn't read about a client's 3rd $10,000,000 home and $12,000 stove and private island, etc., etc. when so many kids here in the U.S. can't afford college, or even breakfast, as you so rightly said. I love beauty and celebration and don't want to take anything away from that, but let's also see those who need our help!

  4. We all have to do what we feel is right. I have not experienced poverty the way you have, Lore. I'm not sure why the IOC chose Rio but there must be some kind of cost benefit – i.e., the amount of money brought in, jobs created, yadda yadda. The other day someone posted a photo essay of past Olympic venues and the state of disarray they're in. If this year's venue can raise awareness about the conditions in Rio, maybe it's not all bad?

  5. Absolutely, Peggy. Life is juicy because we have choices. I wasn't planning to write this blog…it just happened as I was lost in my emotions wondering why I wasn't all jazzed about the Olympics. It felt odd given my background. It certainly was not written with the intent of hoping to get more clients. Hahaha! And you're right–perhaps gold will be spun in Rio after all when the world sees through its veneer that all is not cool in the land of Ipanema and Copacabana.

  6. This is so beautiful and heartfelt. I also have known poverty and single motherhood. I think that with everything that is going on in the world, throwing away money on all that glitz is shameful. I am proud of the athletes who worked so hard, some amid civil war and homelessness, to make it to the Olympics. That is a testimony to the human spirit. They deserve their gold medals. But they don't need a 4 million dollar display to tell them they are special. They are priceless. I'd rather see people fed and housed, and children educated, and disease conquered. Prayers and blessings.

  7. Indeed, you are a synchronicity sistah, Barb. I somehow knew you would be one of the VFA Sisters who got this blog post at a core level–and like all who have so kindly replied. The older I get (I'll be 63 in October) I see that there IS NO NEED FOR LACK ANYWHERE. It's all about power the distribution. No child in America –or anywhere–but not here in my country, should go to bed HUNGRY. Yet I think it's 1-4 or 1-5…too many is the bottom line. Thanks for your prayers and blessings, Barb. YOU are appreciated.

  8. Lore, you raise an excellent perspective for folks to look past the glitz & glam of the opening ceremonies (I didn't watch it, but saw clips online later) to see the real conditions of the countries they are held in. No one should go hungry, not matter where they live. In my Kindness Junkie Shop, I give a portion of all proceeds toward Feeding America. I hope the Rio Olympics bring the poverty of the country to the attention of many, so that they may receive the assistance they need. xo

  9. Hi Lore, Thanks for your thoughtful and courageous post. I've had the opportunity to live and work in a number of developing countries and have seen alot of pain and suffering. With the food we have in the world no one should go hungry. That said my heart also goes out to all those athletes who have trained long and hard to reach the Olympics. Perhaps if a group got together and presented a proposal to the Olympic committee that a portion of all proceeds go to poor and underprivileged in countries where each Olympics is held? I believe creative solutions and working together are the way forward to change our dominant values from greed, individualism and competition to contribution, collaboration, caring and connection. Thanks for sharing your perspective and experiences.

  10. Lore an thought-provoking and action-inspiring post! I want to every person, sponsor and athlete to leave footprints of love in Rio by making it better than when they arrived. How? By building awareness of the needs of Brazil's people when they get home. I feel that any sponser of the Olympics needs to be a sponsor of the people of that country too! what if some of the resources for state of the art stadiums and equipment went to supporting the needs of a nation…it would be a win win for everyone. Let's encourage anyone who attends the Olympics to be ambassadors of love!

  11. How great that you support Feeding America. I will look at this idea as well for my business, Tae. I, too, hope that the Olympics will spin some gold for the less fortunate.

  12. I agree–no one should go to bed hungry. And I like your idea of finding ways to perhaps rethink the opening ceremonies or something and write a proposal for the IOC. Pamela.

  13. I like your co-op idea for the sponsoring organizations, Deb. Why not? There's no reason why anyone in our world should be poor…much less go to bed hungry. Yes, we all need to put on the mantle as an Ambassador of Love.

  14. Ah, taking a look at excess and disbalance in our world. The Olympics provide an ample opportunity to do this. I agree. Thanks for grounding in this truth and reminding us. Blessed be. [sharing this now]

  15. Understand where you are coming from and I believe that it was a mistake to give Brazil the Olympics and hopefully there will be good that comes from the games. I also think that the olympics gives many young athletes a wonderful opportunity to grow and yes I did watch the opening and loved the message about climate change along with the refugee tam- what a gift for them. My feeling has always been put them back in Greece – just one venue and maybe the sick politics of the Olympics would change. Thanks for sharing you heart love you xx

  16. Thank you for your heartfelt consciousness raising post Lore. The disparity between the rich and poor throughout the world is astonishing, especially in Rio. Watching the Brazilian men's soccer team play today, I could see the pride in the fans because the players represent the possibility of rising out of poverty and having options. Many youth in the favelas play soccer with the hope of escaping that life. There has been so much corruption in the Olympics and yet it symbolizes the triumph of the human body and spirit. I love the idea of the world financially blessing each site the Olympics occurs and as a world community leaving places better than before we arrived. As for my community I support many organizations that are addressing poverty, homelessness and the empowerment of people. Thank you for speaking your truth!

  17. I really hope more gold stays in Rio than what they spent to make the Olympic games a reality. I had the assumption that's the real reason why countries wanted to host the games in the first place, to bring more money in. I would expect that money gets streamed down to those who need it, but I also know that is not always the case. One can only hope they do the right thing for their people.

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