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child of innocence
Steve Rushin
December 19, 1994
Bonnie Blair grew up with the ideal that competing—not just winning—is everything
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December 19, 1994

Child Of Innocence

Bonnie Blair grew up with the ideal that competing—not just winning—is everything

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"Bonnie has given me so much," she says, wind-whipped in the cold. "I've been all over the world, done some of the most wonderful things." Her eyes puddle. "She's opened a whole new life for me in my old age."

"I can basically cry at the drop of a hat," says Bonnie, who wishes this wasn't necessarily so. "A couple of weeks ago I was honored by a women's sports foundation in New York. When the dinner was over, Mom starts getting all emotional: 'Oh, you've given me so much in my....' And I'm like, Oh, god, Mom, don't start, ya know?"

But it's too late. Blair's chin is aquiver at the memory alone. This is over lunch at a German restaurant in Waukesha, Wis. When the schnitzel plates are cleared, a sweet white-haired woman in her 60's approaches from the next table.

"May I just shake your hand, Bonnie?" the woman asks softly.

"Surrre."

"I think you're just—oh, I don't know—I think you're just a...a neat person."

"Thank you."

"You're a good, good person."

"Thank you very much."

"This is my mom," says the woman, gesturing to the table behind Bonnie. "She's 97 years old."

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