PHILADELPHIA – Apolo Anton Ohno, the winningest U.S. winter Olympian in history, spoke to students from La Salle Academy, St. Malachy and St. Laurentius schools April 14 at St. Michael Parish Hall.

But Ohno was not there to talk about his great accomplishments; he was there to inspire students to live healthy lives and follow their dreams.

“I’m human just like everyone else,” said Ohno, an eight-time Olympic medalist who at February’s Vancouver Games tied Bonnie Blair for the most medals by one winter Olympian.

“But if I can somehow change some of these kids’ lives, I’m doing something right,” he said.

The Apolo Anton Ohno Foundation partnered with the Century Council and its interactive program “Ask, Listen, Learn” to inspire kids to embrace a healthy lifestyle and say no to underage drinking.

The council is a non-profit group dedicated to fighting underage drinking and drunk driving.

Ohno told students about his past struggles and how making positive decisions impacted his life.

“He shows kids that he started off just like us,” said a fourth-grader in attendance.

Ohno’s message was “It’s not where you start, it’s where you finish.”

Sister Jeanne McGowan, S.S.J., La Salle Academy’s president, found comparisons between his message and that of the school’s patron saint. “To get up once they fall, that’s the whole thing of (St.) John Baptist de La Salle,” she said.

Students from San Miguel Camden and Hope Partnership for Education were also part of the presentation.

– Elizabeth Moors Jodice