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Remarkable women, remarkable role models

April 28, 2016
Editorial , Lake Placid News

It's 2016, so it may be no surprise to see a front page filled with stories about remarkable women in Lake Placid, no men in sight until you start flipping through the pages.

Yet even though more and more women are pushing through the glass ceiling and taking more prominent roles in American society, we still feel compelled to highlight their accomplishments. After all, young women still need strong female role models.

Asked if she sees herself as a role model, Lake Placid's Ruth Hart said, "Heavens, no," even though she's receiving the Essex County Bar Association's Liberty Bell Award on Sunday because of her community service efforts over the past 70 years. She's too modest. We most definitely see Mrs. Hart as a role model; she's helped make Lake Placid a better place to live and visit.

Article Photos

Ruth Hart, of Lake Placid, is receiving the Essex County Bar Association's Liberty Bell Award on May 1.
(News photo — Andy Flynn)

This year's distinguished volunteers of the year are also role models: adult volunteer Cora Clark, a nurse who has been volunteering for more than 40 years; and youth volunteer Samantha Barney, a Lake Placid High School senior who is beginning to make her mark on the world.

For more than 21 years, Lake Placid's Chandler Ralph has been at the helm of Adirondack Health, the biggest private sector employer in the Tri-Lakes Region. Her leadership in the community is finally getting recognized as she plans to retire this year. We thank her for her service and for being a remarkable role model for young women.

Why do we need role models for women? Simply put, there's more work to be done.

Consider that women could not compete in ski jumping in the Winter Olympics until 2014. Role models like Lindsey Van, who trained in Lake Placid when she was young, helped make Olympic competition for female ski jumpers possible.

Now we're seeing headway for the four-woman bobsled teams. On Jan. 9, Canadian driver Kaillie Humphries made history in Lake Placid when she was the first to drive an all-female team in a four-man World Cup bobsled race - against the men.

"Hopefully next season we can have a full women's four-man circuit, and each race we want to be able to show everybody here - it doesn't matter what track - that girls can compete [in four-man] and we can do it very well," Humphries told CBC Sports after the race.

Of course, Lake Placid's Katharin Dewey (1917-1997) pioneered women's bobsledding until women were banned from championship bobsled races "on the grounds that the sport is too hazardous for them." In 2014, she was posthumously inducted into the U.S. Bobsled Hall of Fame. Not only was she daring enough to be a bobsledder, she was really good at it, piloting her team to victory in the 1940 U.S. Championships.

"Bobsledding, since its inception a stronghold of male sport, bowed Monday to femininity," started the AP article following Dewey's win.

Dewey was 24 years old at the time.

"She won her spurs as a driver, winning a two and four man novice race and the Lithgow Osborne trophy, which was her first major victory," stated the Feb. 16, 1940 Lake Placid News.

Women's bobsledding became an official discipline in 1998 with a two-woman sled. In 2000, it was featured in the World Championships, and it made its Olympic debut at the 2002 Olympic Winter Games at Salt Lake City. But four-woman bobsledding is not on the program for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea. The earliest it could be added would be for the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing.

Politics aside, Hillary Clinton would become the first female U.S. president if she wins the election in November. For that and the many achievements she's made over the years - as America's first lady, U.S. senator from New York, U.S. secretary of state, and more - she is indeed a remarkable woman who is a remarkable role model for young women.

There's a reason women's issues are on Clinton's election platform; there's still more work to be done. She promises to:

-Ensure equal pay for women.

-Defend women's health and reproductive rights against attacks.

-Fight for paid family leave and affordable child care.

On April 20, U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew announced that former slave and abolitionist Harriet Tubman will replace former President Andrew Jackson on the front of the $20 bill and that women and civil rights leaders will be added to the $5 and $10 notes. According to The New York Times, "Tubman would be the first woman so honored on paper currency since Martha Washington's portrait briefly graced the $1 silver certificate in the late 19th century."

Now that's progress, and it's a great way to say thanks to all the remarkable women in our lives.



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