|Sean Stanton, Kelly Olinger and Jason at the St. Anthony's Triathlon in St. Pete|
Hello Everyone!I’m Kelly Olinger, your guest blogger for Jason’s birthday. You may know me better as “That guy who wears a kilt to the events”. It is an honor to be blogging to all of you on such a momentous occasion. I have never blogged before (as you can probably tell) and even this has required Jennifer’s intervention on my behalf to get it posted.
Jason and I met while working together at Marriott Vacation Club in the mid-90’s. As you all know from your own experience, it was very easy to get to know Jason and become fast friends. While we met at work, our friendship soon extended outside the office to our joint effort to become triathletes. Of course the tricky part was that neither of us had ANY experience with proper swimming or cycling techniques. Of all the triathlon guides I read, NOT A SINGLE ONE recommended the dog paddle as an effective technique to compete. As such we were both thrown into the deep end of the pool and taught ourselves how to swim properly, or at least close enough to it that we could survive a quarter mile in the open water. With time, the quarter mile grew to a half mile, then a mile, and eventually for Jason - over two miles in his Ironman competition. As with all aspects of his life, Jason pushed himself to be the best that he could be – as a Triathlete, Father, Husband, Coworker, or Friend.
Morning swims were made more memorable with our not-so-healthy post swim breakfast at Bob Evans where we discussed work, life, and everything under the sun. We also had great weekend rides through the hills of Clermont with John Rader, Sean Stanton, Scott Benke and Paul Lopes. While we parted ways on the work front for a few years, it was great to work with Jason again at Hilton Grand Vacations starting in late 2011. At Hilton, as at Marriott, he was respected by everyone he came into contact with for his intelligence, wit, friendship, and courage to say what needed to be said. He continues to be missed by everyone at HGV and amongst all his friends and family as you well know.
So from all of that, I now have had the chance to work with Tony Terry and Jennifer to pull together one of Jason’s lifelong dreams – The Obscure Bar Tour. I can’t think of a better way to honor his memory or his Birthday than this! It was the often-talked about pub crawl that none of us ever quite had the time to organize. I remember going to an Orlando Magic game with Jason and passing “Hoops” on Amelia Avenue and talking about the concept. I’m sure quite a few of you were given the vision as well, and on this Saturday - May 30th - it will be brought to life. I know Jason will be looking down on it all with a smile on his face, watching a dream of the past brought to life. So whether you’re with us on the bus, or sitting at home in your living room, be sure to raise a glass in honor of our friend Jason on the evening of May 30th – I know I will!
Here’s to you Jason, and Happy Birthday!Kelly