Art of the Olympians receives support from D.C. Delegation
at the end of January, once remodeling is complete at the City Pier Building in Fort Myers, and with the contributions of several local contractors.
The project was the dream of the late Al Oerter, fourtime Olympic Gold Medalist and artist, establishing a setting in which art of Olympic athletes from around the world would be exhibited. Mr. Oerter, a long-time resident of Fort Myers Beach, died in 2007.
In one of the final steps in making a reality of the dream, The Art of the Olympians leadership team was welcomed Dec. 1 by political leaders during a special meeting at the Florida House in Washington D.C.
Prince Albert of Monaco, also an Olympian, led the delegation in support of AOTO’s efforts to establish a gallery and learning center for educational and cultural exchange. Sen. Bill Nelson, Sen. George LeMieux, Florida Secretary of State Kurt Browning and Congressman John Mica of the Seventh District of Florida were in attendance. Lee County Chairwoman Tammy Hall and Fort Myers Mayor Randy Henderson made opening remarks to the Congressional Officials at the luncheon. Lee County Manager Karen Hawes and Florida Gulf Coast University President Wilson Bradshaw were also present to demonstrate and communicate their support and commitment to the project.
“It is an honor to have the support of so many local, national and international leaders,” said Cathy Oerter, AOTO board member and Al Oerter’s widow. “Art of the Olympians started with Al’s dream to create a center where individuals could both explore Olympic ideals and discover physical, educational and artistic excellence, but we have been able to realize this dream through the passion and support of many.”
Senators Nelson and LeMieux expressed enthusiastic support for the Art of the Olympians Al Oerter Center of Excellence and its mission. After the delegation, AOTO leadership was invited to meet privately with Sen. Nelson’s staff to discuss a plan to create a federal funding source for the AOTO Foundation.
According to the United States Olympic Committee, once the Art of the Olympians Al Oerter Center of Excellence is fully developed, it will have an estimated annual impact of $25 million on the local economy.
“Art of Olympians will attract people of consequence: artists, politicians, leaders in business and industry from around the nation and the world to take a look at the opportunities available in Lee County,” said Liston Bochette, Olympian and AOTO board member. “AOTO intends to be an incubator not only for the arts, but more so for ideas in social and economic growth, by creating a unique environment for the community at large and our local leaders in particular.”