Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Global Greek Maria Menounos: As a First Generation Greek American, I Desperately Wanted to Do Something to Help Greece...

Maria Menounos with her Mum and Dad at the end of their run in the Kallimarmaro Stadium
 Photo Source: Maria Menounos via www.self.com

Gorgeous and multi-talented Greek American Maria Menounos, actress, journalist and television presenter, Access Hollywood and NBC News Correspondent, is one of our wonderful Global Greeks who always does her bit for Greece, the land her parents left to emigrate to the US in the 1970's. 

Her love for Greece brought her to Greece in 2006 to host the Eurovision Song Contest along with Sakis Rouvas, something she did with a lot of love, taking a few days off from her busy work schedule so that at the end of the contest she could enjoy some quality time with her relatives in the Peloponnese.

Just recently she anchored a great little video clip called "Heck Yeah! We Invented Democracy" for the Greek American organisation Next Generation Initiative, featuring many prominent Greek Americans who had a great time getting together to encourage Americans to do get out and "Vote, it's the Greek thing to do"

At the end of October this year, she came to Athens to take part in the Marathon of Marathons, the 2500 year celebrations for the Marathon. Not only did she host the celebration at the Zappeion Centre but she also participated, accompanying both her parents in the 5 kilometre run!

We listened to a visibly moved Maria speaking to reporters after she finished the 5 kilometre run with her parents and declared that she would love to come back and do the Classic 42.195 kilometre Marathon one day, in fact she said,  everyone should come to Greece for the Classic Marathon!  

We were thrilled that she participated, along with George Papandreou, the Prime Minister of Greece and a lot of other people, famous and not so famous, and we loved what she had to say shortly afterwards, to her friends on Twitter...

Finished the 5k marathon today w/my parents.I didn't know that the 5k finishes thru the original olympic stadium..omg it was so moving!!

I almost lost it coming thru-such a historic day-truly honored to have participated-i recommend the classic athens marathon to all!

A few days later she wrote  an exclusive diary for self.com magazine and we thought we would share it with you ...

"Believe it or not, the economic conditions in Greece are even worse than those in our country's. As a first generation Greek American, I desperately wanted to do something to help. That something came in the form of hosting the 2010 Greek marathon. 

This year was the 2500th anniversary commemorating the mythic run of Greek messenger, Pheidippides, from the Battle of Marathon to Athens. Way back in 490 BC., Pheidippides job was to spread the word that Athens had defeated Persia at the battle. 

In 2010, it was my job to spread the word that the Greek marathon is THE premiere marathon in the world and that Greece, despite its economic setbacks, is THE premiere vacation destination and tourist attraction as well. 

After all, what other marathon is so authentic and rich in history? 

And what other country offers travelers such a wide range of assets from gorgeous island paradises to ancient historical wonders to a booming night life? I can't think of many. 

Yet, as awe-inspiring as Greece and the marathon was and is, it was my decision to run the 5K portion of the race that may have given me the most inspiration.

Honestly, I wouldn't even think to attend this event without my parents. As Greek natives who moved to the United States in their twenties, this was an experience they could not miss. Growing up in mountain villages that lacked electricity and running water, this was quite their triumphant return. 

However, what truly inspired me, and what I hope inspires others, is the fact that they decided to actually run the race with me. 

Mind you, these are not the parents who play tennis, do aerobics or have gym memberships. 

They are working-class folk. Dad, Costas, was a janitor and a handyman. Mom, Litsa, was a cafeteria worker. They had kids to feed in a foreign culture whose language they did not speak. 

What compounded their struggles was the fact that Dad's a Type I diabetic, prone to severe low blood sugar attacks. He's had the disease for forty years and has even been pronounced dead on more than one occasion due to its effects. As you can guess, there just wasn't room for extracurricular activities like exercise. 

Yet, this 66-year-old diabetic and his 56-year-old wife, who battled medical setbacks of her own including thyroid issues and a deviated septum, were determined, despite everything, to help the cause and to show their support by running the race. They lacked exercise experience and they lacked youth but had something, perhaps, more valuable. They had their minds in the state of 'possibility.'....

Thanks Greece, and thanks Mom and Dad, for reminding me to keep MY mind in possibility when I want to give up. I hope others out there can be reminded, too."

Read the rest of the article here...

Thank YOU,  Maria

Thanks for the generous and unstinting support that you and your parents, along with the rest of our Global Greeks, have given, and continue to give our homeland, especially at times like these ...We're keeping our minds in the state of possibility too! We know Greece will overcome!

Ευχαριστούμε πολύ! Νάσαι Πάντα Καλά!

To read more about Maria, Click Here

To follow Maria on Twitter, Click Here

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