|Cal Poly Pomona student Kim Rhode is recognized during Fall Conference.|
|Kim Rhode and President Michael Ortiz look over the new donated shotgun.|
Cal Poly Pomona surprised student and Olympian Kim Rhode with a new competition shotgun on Monday, Sept. 22, during the university's annual kick-off event Fall Convocation. Ten days earlier, Rhode's prized shotgun was stolen. She had used the 12-gauge shotgun in all of her Olympic appearances, winning two gold medals, a silver and a bronze while competing in double trap and skeet shooting events.
“You guys are sneaky that's all I have to say!” said Rhode, holding her forehead. “Thank you so much…I really am speechless at this point. I just hope that I can win as many gold medals with that gun as I did with the other.”
Rhode had been scheduled to take part in the Fall Convocation speech during a section reserved for recognizing extraordinary faculty, staff and students.
She referenced her stolen shotgun as she addressed the campus community.
“When I started my journey 18 years ago for the Olympics, I never truly dreamed that it would take me to the places I've gotten to go, meet the people I've gotten to meet and see the things I've gotten to see. It's truly been an amazing journey. I think that's what the Olympics truly represent. It's not about the gold, silver or bronze when you're standing on the podium. It about the journey and the bumps you had to overcome to get there. I had my gun stolen about a week ago [pause] — It's still very, very hard. Excuse me [pause], but I am going to go for the 2012 Olympics in London. And I'd like to say I'll represent Cal Poly Pomona and the United States very proudly. Thank you so much for believing in me.”
After her remarks, university President J. Michael Ortiz asked her to stay on stage and invited Perazzi Vice President Lucio Sosta to join them. After the theft hit the news, Cal Poly Pomona received several phone calls from the community looking for some way to help.
“Kim has been an extraordinary ambassador to Cal Poly Pomona, including donating her time to our development efforts. She is one of ours. So we were able to reach out to Perazzi and their local representative,” Ortiz said. “Thanks to the support of anonymous donors to the university and Kim's long-time relationship with Perazzi, we have a special surprise. On behalf of the Cal Poly Pomona community and Perazzi, we are proud to present you with a brand new Perazzi 2000S competition shotgun. May you always find gold in your sights!”
About eight donors and Perazzi made it possible to give Rhode the shotgun, which is valued at $15,000 and will be further customized for her in the future.
Full video of the Fall Convocation can be viewed online at http://video.cpp.edu/streaming/cpp/fallconf.html and clicking on the video links for Convocation. Rhode is featured beginning at about minute 19.