– I hope we are ready for the off again.
You're all replenished, powered up for the afternoon session.
Can I just please ask now, because we are back insession effectively, so I don't wanna get too school masterly, but come and take a seat.
Sit down, get ready.
Because we've got alarge dose of inspiration among other things for you.
We also have involvement and inclusion.
It's all wrapped up in our first package.
So this is pretty special.
We're going to enjoy a conversation between two verysignificant characters here.
And I'm going to ask Aimee and Lee.
Can you both come up straight away? Come and take seat up on the stage.
And as you do that, I'llmake some introductions.
'Cause as I said, theseare the themes for us in a conference like this.
We tackle inclusion.
We tackle involvement.
We look at the issues of inspiration and how we get there.
And we have it in abundance.
Amiee Mullins, thank you very much indeed for being with us here today.
Aimee is, well, is an athlete of the highest standing, an actress, former model she insists.
I think she could be a current model.
She is a Georgetown University alumn.
Can I just say, also as an Englishman, I've never used the word alumn before.
So I'm feeling quite liberated.
I beg your pardon.
I'll never use it again.
(audience laughing) Sorry, completely offthe point there, right? So, Aimee has just the mostincredible story to tell.
She was one year oldwhen she had amputations on both legs below the knee.
And yet, she competed asthe first female amputee, taking part in the NCAA, ever in Division Oneagainst elite athletes.
She is a Paralympian from Atlanta '96 in sprints and long jump, president of the Women'sSports Foundation.
She was chef de mission for the U.
Olympic Committee for the ParalympicGames of 2012 in London.
As I say, she's also been a model for luminaries likeAlexander McQueen no less, and an actor working with Oliver Stone, and actors including DavidSuchet and Andy Garcia.
And as you will all know, I have to confess I didn't know this, Stranger Things on Netflix is one of the biggest things on Netflix, and Aimee is one of thestars in Stranger Things.
So, this is an extraordinary character achieving extraordinary things.
And she's gonna be interviewed, interviewed loosely, have a conversation with Lee Reed.
Lee is the, as you know, Director of Athletics here at Georgetown University, has been for pushing a decade now.
And has had great success in that time nurturing athletes and coaches and pulling achievement out of them.
He's president of the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics, was from 2018 to 2019.
A basketball player, that won't surprise you.
And I should say Black Enterprise Magazine listed him as one of the 50 most powerful African Americans in sport.
So this is quite a couple here.
(audience chuckles) Lee is also a very natty dresser and damned good in front of a camera.
So, they have a lot in common, and I'm gonna hand it over to you, Lee.
– Thank you, thank you.
Good afternoon, everybody.
This is quite an honorto be here with Aimee, but to also be here with all of you, and to host this wonderful conference.
I want to pay tribute to some of my staff who are in the room here today that work, and also the administrators, the athletics administrators in the room from other universities that work so hard inthis business of sport in terms of educationof our student athletes.
And there's also a fewof our student athletes.
I see our SAC president is here, Margot.
So we're really excited tohave everybody here today and for this exciting conversation.
I will tell you as you see, then I've been listening today.
I've been in and out, andas I see some of the words that have been described about sport, you know, joy, enlightenment, respect.
I gotta tell ya.
I wasn't feelin' any ofthose words last night when we were down by 19.
(audience laughs) Sport does have an amazing wayof sort of bringing you back, but boy, last night, those six words, those six values were not top of mind.
There were another six wordsthat I was thinking about that cannot be repeated here.
But all is well that ends well.
We're off to a great start and proud of our basketball program.
And I think you're gonnahear from our coach later on.
Patrick Ewing, who was, obviously, you've had some interaction with, right? Yeah.
Let's start, Aimee.
We heard a little bit of her bio, but I just wanna.
Some of the words that havebeen used to describe Aimee.
Athlete, model, actress, Olympian.
Hall-of-famer, brandambassador, public speaker.
Advocate, daughter, wife.
And Georgetown graduate, class of '98.
– SFS, yeah.
And they're celebratingan anniversary as well.
Of all of those adjectives, which one means the most to you? – (blows air through lips) Lee brings it.
(audience chuckles) Forgive me for goin' a bit rogue, but it's not on that list.
And it's Aimee Mullins.
I believe in the.
Holistic nature of a human being, and that we can be all thosethings moving through time.
You know, certainlycoming back to this campus stirs so much because I did grow up in Catholic household.
My mother thought for a while she might wanna be a Franciscan nun.
She was an novitiate, I think, for five years and then she didn't take her final vows.
She bought a Mercury Cougar and a pair of hot pantsand left Philadelphia and drove to the Bronx.
She eventually met mydad, and they got married, and they had me.
But that, they never left, right? So, I was not going to a Catholic school.
That was, like, threatened on me.
You know, “If you don't shape up, “we're putting you in Catholic school.
” And then, you know, I ended up at a Jesuit university and.
Not a week goes by that I don't think aboutSister Helen Prejean coming to Ethics and Public Policy class to talk about the death penalty.
Just the professors I had access to, the speakers that would come to campus.
The idea that no matter what you studied, you had to take philosophyand ethics and theology.
Studying with Rabbi White.
The wisdom of the Jewish tradition was one of my favorite classes.
The fact that Georgetownwas about teaching us how to think and not what to think really solidified for me this idea that we are like a gemstone, and you can turn the gemstone and have the light shinethrough a different facet, but all those otherfacets are still there, and make up the whole.
– Wow, wow.
So, your formation youtouched on a little bit.
So, the audience can know a little bit about your background.
When you were, I think, about 14-years-old, there was a story about buying a dress.
– Oh man.
– Do you remember that story? – I do.
– You want me to tell that story? – (mumbles) – All right, I'm throwingmy parents under the bus.
But my dad emigrated tothe U.
from Ireland, and he never got to havethe opportunity of education passed the age of 15.
And, you know, my dad's a plasterer by trade and can build anything.
My mom was cleaning houses.
She worked a craft.
But education was king.
And so, my dad, when I was a little girl, on a job site, he would giveme a brick and a trowel, and I'd get to plaster around.
And he'd say, “What do youwanna be when you grow up?” And I said, “A plasterer.
” And he said, “You will be a doctor, a lawyer, or an engineer.
” He still, he can't fathomthat I don't have a real job.
– (chuckles)He cannot believe that I went to a fancy universityand don't have a real job.
14-years-old, you know, I.
The work ethic was strong in an immigrant household, you know? And, so I started, I got apaper route when I was 12.
My brother and I, we wouldshovel people's driveways.
He would mow lawns, Iwould have the weed wacker.
We had businesses going.
I had a babysitting empire.
But age 12, I got a paper route, and it was a good paper route.
Was like, 65 papers every morning.
That was some good bank.
And my mom is one of 11 kids.
Her mother, my grandmother, was a seamstress, so hand-me-downs (giggles) Everything I'm wearing in everyschool picture growing up, my cousin, Andrew, had on the year before.
Matt had it the year before that.
And you can just trace outfits for decades that Grandmom would takeup the hem, let out a hem.
So, it was a huge deal.
Never bought anything that wasn't on sale.
And there was this storecalled The Limited, that, in Junior High, wassort of the thing, right? And, unfortunately, itwas a time when I remember girls could be their worst, and the label of what youwere wearing really mattered.
And my parents refused tocater to that, rightfully.
And, so, I went and bought, with my paper route money, two dresses.
They were $40 a piece.
That was a lot of money, big money.
Yeah, $80 for two dresses? And these were so great.
It was like a kind of awanna-be Yves Saint Laurent safari dress with a belt.
And it hit right at the knee.
So I had wooden legs growing up, and they were held on with Velcro straps that were riveted toeither side of the knee, which ruined stockings.
So, the second you put stockings on, you're havin' runners, you know? And I was a what they used to call tomboy.
I was just very physically active.
So, I always had runners in my stockings.
But my mom had been an athlete, so it wasn't something that was, you know, yeah, she was, she was a good athlete.
And I came downstairs for Easter mass.
My dad was always readybefore everyone else, sitting there reading the paper.
And he would barely kind of, you know, glance over the top of the paper.
But he did, and because thedress hit right at the kneecap, when I walked, you could seethe outline of the wooden legs.
And you could see the rivets.
And he just went, “You goback upstairs and change.
“It doesn't look right.
” And I remember thinkingthis was the best thing I've ever owned in my life.
I look amazing.
This is incredible.
And I knew what he meant, but something snapped in me.
I wanted to challenge him on this.
And I said, “I think I look great.
” And he said, “No, you can see your legs.
“It doesn't look right.
“You need to go up and change.
” And I refused.
And I was grounded.
And after Easter Sunday mass, we all go to my grandmother's house.
And my mom, one of 11, you can imagine.
It's just wonderful chaos.
And I told.
And of course, all my aunts, my mom has eight sisters, “Aimee, you look so lovely, look at you.
” I was ladylike, whichwas a big deal for them.
Occasionally, once a year Icould sort of pull it together.
And I said, “Oh, really? “'Cause mom and dad thinkI look inappropriate.
” And it was like, – (chuckles) I think for my parentsto hear that out loud, they realized that it wasn't, it wasn't the way to go.
And I realized actuallyin remembering that story how hard it must havebeen for them as parents, when you wanna protect your kids from people staring and being rude and presumptive and going to some serious lengths.
With coaches that didn'twant me on the softball team, even though later I gotthe stolen bases record.
Wooden legs sliding into second base.
Has an advantage.
(audience laughing) (audience laughing)For real.
She got out of the way.
(audience laughing)They learned.
They learn in the leagues.
But, yeah, that was a, it was something where I, as an adult, reflecting and thinking howfrustrating it must've been for a very proud man like my father to see and feel what I hadlived with my whole life, which is people staring.
And knowing that you'rebeing considered as other.
And it's something thatironically, I think, every human being has actually experienced that sense of feeling like you're other at some point in your life.
And I think it's one of the things that connects us as human beings.
– So, the question, the reason I asked because it stood out to me as sort of in your evolution as a young person, you were starting toreally become the woman that you have become today, relative to being very, very secure in who you are as a human being.
And that was one of the outward things early on in your life that you did.
And there's just beenthis steady progression in terms of your confidence from within, in terms of who you are andwhat you bring to the world.
And it's been fascinatingto find more out about you, and learn more about your story.
You came to Georgetown University, School of Foreign Service.
You've always been an athlete, and you wanted to takethat to another level.
So, this coach, Gags, Gagliano.
You wanna talk about.
– Some guy.
He's a legend in Georgetown lore.
If you don't about ourTrack and Field program, it's one of the best in the country.
And we've had numerous Olympians, we've had numerous All-Americans, we've had numerous NCAA Champions.
But you came across campus tohis office in McDonough Gym.
Tell us about that conversation, you're relationship with him.
The backstory on this isthat I was one of three kids that won a full academic scholarship from the Defense Department.
And, the idea was that they wanted to get some diversity.
And in exchange for paying tuition, I would be an employee, basically a full-time employee.
Full-time employee in the summersand then after graduation.
And, so when I got the notice of all the schools I'd gotten into, the government scholarship didn't award, they didn't tell us who the winners were for another almost two months.
So, there was one schoolleft who didn't have to go to their wait list.
And that was GW, whichI had never been to, I had never, you know, it wasn't my intended school.
So, I started there.
And it was kind of stumbling.
Track and Field, I hadnever run without a ball.
And you realize why theball is really important when you don't have it.
– (chuckles) – Because it's just you andyour breath and your pain.
So, when someone hadsuggested that I compete in a meet in Boston, it was actually a guywho had run at UMass, and he was working at one ofthe places on Wisconsin Avenue.
It was a restaurant.
And I remember being kind of.
He said, “You know, there'sother people like you.
” I said, “What, like, blondes?” “What do you mean?” (audience chuckling) And he said, “You know, I don't know, “people in wheelchairs and stuff.
” And I was like, “That's a, you know, “that's a different thing.
” I went home, and I was so irked.
I was like, “Why would this guy?” You know, I was on achampionship softball team.
I played volleyball, swimming.
It was like.
And I had to be to keep, you had to be that good.
And I thought, “I clearly don't know “anything about disabled sports.
” And that's why it bothered me.
Because I was judging something, and I was completely ignorant about it.
So, I signed up for this meet in Boston, and it was the NationalDisabled Sports Championships.
But I had never run at all.
And long story short, I win, I go up, I win, and I'm like, “I got less than a year “before the Olympic trialsfor the Atlanta games.
“And I need to know howto actually do this.
” So, someone said, “Youknow, Georgetown has “a really great track program.
” So, I came back.
I called information, 411.
And I said, “Could youconnect me to Georgetown?” Got the main switch at Georgetown.
“Can you connect me to the track coach?” And I get this voicemail.
It's like, “Leave a message.
” (audience laughing) So I did, and I was like, “Hi, my name is Aimee.
“I'm the new national record holder “in the hundred meter, but for disabled athletes.
“But I've only run one race, “and I was really hopingI could come sit in “on a couple of your practice sessions “so I could learn.
” That's what I asked.
I wanted to sit on the bleachers.
Didn't call me back.
And I called again, andhe didn't call me back.
And then my roommate.
I was living in Foggy Bottom.
My roommate said, “Whateverhappened to that?” And I said, “He didn't call me back.
” She said, “Well, why don'tyou try one more time? “You'll never forgiveyourself if you don't.
” And I did, and he answered.
And I was like, I stammered.
And I went into my spielthat I had left him on his voicemail twice by this point.
And he said, “Why don't we meet first “before we decide anything?” So, I came to his office, and I got there before he did, and I was dwarfed byall these framed photos of every amazing, amazingrunner he's coached.
And I thought, “I should just get out now “before I make a complete fool.
” And he came in, and we ended up talking.
And he said to me, “You showup here three times a week “on my lunch break and I'll train you.
” Which was 10 times more than I had asked.
And two and a half months later, he said, “You know, you should run here.
” So I became, you know.
School of Foreign Servicegenerally didn't have a lot of athletes and didn't really takehalf your transfers.
So, it was, I remember it was the last, I think it was December 23rd, and I was the last, it felt like I was thelast student left in DC, and I got my acceptance letter.
Yeah, I, It's actually very emotional because I remember gettingmy Georgetown paraphernalia and driving across Key Bridge and looking at this placeon the hill, thinking, “I can't believe I get to go here.
” – That's amazing.
I have that same feeling.
Now, seriously, when youcome across the Key Bridge, and you realize thatyou have the opportunity to work at a place that values, and not only values, but it demands of us thatwe be our best selves in every aspect of our lives.
And in that balance that we can provide, or help provide, to our student athletes that they can come here and be the absolute bestathlete they can be.
They can come here and get the absolute best education they can get, and that they'll do that in an environment that really is inspiring, that develops them in an holistic way.
It truly is touching.
And I can, I know you're emotional.
I know how you feel about Coach Gags.
We were with him this summer, and he feels, he starts to tearup when he thinks about you.
The fact that that, you comingtogether with Coach Gags at a place like Georgetown University is not a surprising becauseof all of the values that each of us hold.
And so, I know that that wasa special time in your life, and I know Gags, for him, that was a special time.
So he told me to tell you hello.
– (giggles) I love him.
– But he is awesome.
So, it's mind boggling to me that you go from somebody telling youyou can't do something.
Not only did you go toBoston, but you, like, win the race and set a record.
– Sometimes naivete is strong.
It works for you.
– That's amazing.
– But also I had wooden legs, so it was the firsttime I saw carbon fiber.
It wasn't what I endedrunning with at Georgetown 'cause I got to be theguinea pig for those, but it was, you know, ashin with a shock absorber.
It was a Flex Foot.
And they were looking at me, like, “Aw, you're from Allentown, aren't you?” (audience laughing) I was like a baby woollymammath found frozen in the ice with these wooden legs.
This is before Google.
This is 1995.
You know what I mean? Before you could just find out, you know, and it wasn't like yourinsurance companies were chomping at the bit to give you the greatest stuff that was available.
That time with Coach Gagsand Ron Helmer, as well.
When I started that Winter season, I just remember all Gags saidthe first track practice was, “This is Aimee Mullins.
“She's from Allentown.
“She's gonna sprint.
” And because I still had kinda wooden legs, they looked like a humanleg, I mean the shape was.
Two months later I showup in the cheetah legs, and that was a whole otherchapter in the story.
But I just remember there wasno discussion, no fanfare.
And because I just remember Gags saying, “I never coached an athletewith prosthetic legs, “and you've never been coached.
” – So neither of us – Can't go wrong.
– Yeah, there was no baggagethat either of us had.
It was just like I hadthe will, he had the way.
I had to do the work.
And it was an incrediblenest that, you know.
Two scholarships in the last two years were given Division One Track to amputees.
In 25 years, there's kidswho've been born and raised to absolutely see that as an opportunity.
That they can, and should, be competing at the highest levels of their sport.
– So, 1996, was a pretty good year.
– It was.
– What happened? – Um.
– Small thing called the – Yeah, the Games.
– The Games in Atlanta.
Yeah, I got the last spot on the team.
Somewhere I still havethe answering machine tape of getting the news.
But yeah, it was, it was an extraordinary time.
The Paralympics existedsolely at that time under the Olympic umbrella, and it didn't have thestructure that it now does, and the support and the organization.
Now, as of the last year or 18 months, there's equal pay offered formedal winners, which is huge.
And you kinda think, “Wow, 2018, it took.
” But there's been leapsin the last 20 years.
But when I competed for the United States, they don't call it Hotlanta for nothing.
It was 118 on the track that day, and my legs were held onwith a suction socket.
So it was like a silicone that you'd roll a littlesilicone sleeve over.
And I learned the hard way, because I was the guinea pigon those cheetah legs, right? No one had 'em in the world, and I was testing them.
And it took me a full month to be able to run a hundred meters.
I could run five meters, and I would just, you know, trip and land into the lacrosse practice.
I just remember the lacrosse, girl with the legs is in the field again.
(audience chuckles) It was humiliating.
And I remember wanting it, I think at one point I took the leg and like (blows air through lips).
And Kevin, who's a shotput guy, said to me, “Aim, five meters today, five meters tomorrow.
“In 20 days, you got your race.
” And once I did, then I really could because with the wooden leg, there's no flexion in the ankle.
So matter how great your stride length, you're gonna hit heel strike every time.
So the idea with the cheetah leg is that it mimics the way sprinter is up on the balls of their feet, right? But there was a lot of unknown things.
So that year in Spring, atthe Big East Championship, which was at Villanova, it was the first warm meet of the year.
And what happened is I'mwarmin' up, doin' my drills, and I'm sweating, and thesweat is working it's way up.
And 80 meters into the hundred meter race, which I should've set a personal record, I went (popping noise) on the right leg, and came out and went down.
By this point, news has gotten around that there's a girl at Georgetown runnin' with these funky legs.
So there's TV cameras.
And I just remember scrambling.
You know when your ears burn with that kind of humiliation? And I went over and found, Gags would always kinda be inhis own part of the stands, just alone and pacing.
He looked at me and hewent, “You okay, kid?” And I was like, “Yeah, yeah.
” And I covered up the factthat I actually wasn't okay.
But I knew I had to be okay, and certainly the biggestthing that was bruised was my ego because that waskinda the most vulnerable thing, being in public without your leg on.
You know? And I had been putting all that aside.
You know, running.
Years of, even standingup to my dad in that way.
I didn't want the legs tobe the focus of my life.
That wasn't the mostinteresting thing about me.
And I just wanted to kinda blend in.
And that time in mylife was about accepting the challenge of being extraordinary.
You're not normal, and you're not gonna maybe.
Why blend in when you could stand out? And Gags said, “I'm glad you're fine.
“Stay loose 'cause thetwo hundred's coming up “in 30 minutes.
” And I was like, “What? “You just saw that.
“My leg came off.
“It didn't stay on for a hundred meters.
“It's not gonna stay on for two.
” And he just went, “Gotta do the deuce.
” – (laughing)You gotta do the deuce.
– And he ignored me, and I panicked, and I think I started crying.
“Please, you understand.
“My leg is gonna come off.
“People are gonna be pointingand screaming and fainting.
” And he just stopped me, and he said, “So what? “So what if your leg falls off? “You pick it up, and you put it on.
“You finish the gosh darn race.
” He did not say gosh darn.
– chuckling (audience laughing) – “Get out there and run the deuce.
” And it was like.
I just remember whatever he would do to me if I didn't run that racewould be so much worse than.
I don't know these people, who cares? Who cares if I'm embar-? Actually, it was just suchan extraordinary lesson because he did that thingyou need a coach to do, which is help you get out of your own way.
And it's a hard challengeto yourself, to say, “Do you, can you, “do you have what it takes to accept that “this challenge of being extraordinary? “The challenge and responsibility of it.
” – So sport has shaped you on many levels.
And it's been sort of, like you said, you'realways sort of an athlete.
You're always an Olympian.
What are the things you, today, in terms of your advocacyfor young people, what are the things you hope that you see in the next five to 10 years as we move forward? Like you mentioned, there are more athletes, there's more inclusion, thereare more people involved.
We want everybody to feel comfortable, and be able to be their very best self.
What are the things thatyou're working on now that contribute to that? – Well, certainly, you know, I'm very fortunate andproud to be a trustee of the Women's Sports Foundation.
And the idea that any of uswho've ever played sports knows what you learn from it.
When I think of being astudent athlete at SFS, and I had six courses and was training, I was never a bettertime manager than that.
Student athletes, youlearn time management.
You learn how to be, you learn leadership, you learn when to stand up and lead, and you learn when to giveway and support someone else.
You know, the teamwork.
And especially for women, you find your voice.
I got it.
You have to speak up and speak out, and also physically claim your space.
There's something about being in your body is extraordinary training, I think, for, for us to be evolved human beings.
The disconnect from your body is, I think, the beginning of alot of, of trouble for people.
So, what I hope to see in thenext five, 10 years is just that we manage to keep morekids physically active, specially girls, especiallygirls in underserved areas.
When we have this wonderful opportunity of people coming to Americanfrom other cultures, and bringing elements of, bringing their culture with them.
But there's the fantastic thing aboutthis country is watching how boys today, young boys, don't, they don't know what that expression “throw like a girl” means.
Which is fantastic.
They've grown up watching Serena, and they see there's of course their sister would play sports.
Their mom played sports.
We're only the first generation of Title Nine parents right now.
So, I'm excited to see what happens in the next five to 10 years.
And also, you know, there's never gonna be more amputees than there are.
I'm sorry, there's going to only be more because of better technologyand earlier cancer detection, and people living long.
There's just the idea of a changed body.
And people because their body has changed, they don't want to become irrelevant.
They wanna stay engaged in their life, and they, there's never beenmore opportunity to do it because of the connectivityof the Internet.
People can find out what's available.
They can connect.
But also, I think, taking the taboo off of this idea of us and them.
The categories that – People try to (mumbles) – Yeah, that people usedto put you in baskets because of your ethnicity andyour race and your gender.
We see this now.
That young people want fluidity in so many areas of their life.
They want the right to keep changing.
– Isn't that sort of whatsport brings to society? That's what we'retalking about here today.
Sport at the service of humanity.
That at least for me, thefirst place in my life where I felt totally comfortable and totally equal was playing a sport, early on.
And knowing that if I worked hard, if I gave my all, the other stuff, where I came from, the side of the tracks, how I looked, the color of my skin.
None of that mattered becauseI could go prove myself in that arena.
And I think that's, that'swhat this conference is about.
But isn't that what sort ofteaches those lessons in life, the connection betweensport, humanity, society? – I think that we understand again having, we wanna shapesociety to have the values that we hold dear.
So, when we look at thesewords like inclusion and involvement and inspiration, which is often abused.
But it has to do with thebreath, the life force, to take in life force.
And there's a reason why, you know, people don't really goto the theater anymore, but you still go to a live sports game.
Because you're watchingsomebody be completely present.
And it's glorious to watch somebody face very private struggles in a public way.
And so it is, it's aleveler, and it's a unifier, and we understand, I think, weconnect in the most basic way to content of our humanity through sport.
– Well, I think our time is up.
(chuckles) Any last remarks, or anythingyou'd like to conclude on? – No, other than thefact that I think that conversations like this are, conversations about how sports, you know, I think, the arts as well, thingsthat are, we're losing in our school systemsbecause of budgetary reasons.
We need to remind ourselves and others.
We need to shout it from the rooftops about how important it is.
It's not just kicking aball or throwing a ball.
These are the fundamentals of life, and we know how that, once you learn these things, they never leave you.
So, I'm really proud thatmy Alma Mater is hosting this conference and thrilled and honored that you invited me.
– Well, thank you very much.
(audience applauding)- Thank you.