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Little-guy Olympic sponsors score Vancouver talent

February 4, 2010

OCLI and our LASIK for the Gold Program was interviewed by the AP last week!  Here is the story's links:

Little-guy Olympic sponsors score Vancouver talent 

Little-guy Olympic sponsors score Vancouver talent

And the story:

Little-guy Olympic sponsors score Vancouver talent

YORK (AP) — The names Cary Silverman, Todd Greene and Gabe Herrick may
not come up much during the Vancouver Olympics, but they're players

are little-guy sponsors of U.S. athletes who hung in with training help
and endorsement deals when many corporate giants pulled back during the
economic meltdown.

"Yeah, it was
a huge hit," says short-track speedskater Katherine Reutter. "As soon
as the economy began going downhill, a lot of individual deals went
down with it."

Enter Silverman,
an ophthalmologist in East Hanover, N.J. He did her LASIK for free,
travel and hotel expenses paid. At Bioenergy Life Science Inc., a
company in Minneapolis with only 30 employees, Herrick provides her
boxloads of a favorite energy powder.

hometown police department in Champaign, Ill., has been a loyal backer,
and comedy Central's Stephen Colbert is an official sponsor of U.S.
Speedskating, replacing a Dutch bank that went bankrupt and left the
sport $300,000 short. The Colbert Nation raised that and then some.

the Winter Games approached, Reutter says, some of the big boys came to
call. "Verizon and PowerBar have just jumped on the train within the
last couple of months," Reutter says. "Now everybody wants a piece of
the action."

But for many
athletes, it's the long-term personal sponsors who have supported them
through the long haul. Making his third trip to the Olympics,
cross-country skier Torin Koos grew up in Leavenworth, Wash., on the
eastern slopes of the Cascade mountains in the heart of pear-growing
country. For six years, the only logo he has displayed on racing caps
is that of USA Pears, a brand of the fruit grown in his home state and
neighboring Oregon.

"I grew up
running through pear orchards in the spring and summer, rollerskiing
and skiing beside them in the fall and winter," Koos said. "I made a
couple dollars in the summer working at my friend Scott's family
fruitstand. It is part of my roots, of where I grew up. It is also a
company I can believe in wholeheartedly. Instead of promoting something
like Mountain Dew or Mickey D's, I'm promoting healthy living and

In Los Angeles, a
cutesy head shaver that looks like a little yellow race car has made
Greene a millionaire, but he's got a long way to go before HeadBlade
Inc. is the next Gillette. With only eight employees, Greene's
relationship with skeleton racer Zach Lund has boosted the product's
profile but also done the athlete a world of good in the morale

Back in 2005, Lund
was ranked No. 1 in the world, then tested positive ahead of the 2006
Games for finasteride, an ingredient in the hair growth product
Propecia. At the time, finasteride was on the world anti-doping list as
a possible mask for steroids.

had previously disclosed his use of Propecia, which he had used for
years and had not been on previous lists, but he didn't double-check
the list that year and was suspended for a year, lost appeals and
missed the Games in Italy. Finasteride was later de-listed. By then,
Lund had decided to make his controversial thinning hair disappear by

"I was trying to hold
on to my hair pretty hard back then," he says. "It was always a big
insecurity of mine. I missed the Olympics because of it, which was
pretty devastating, to miss out on my lifelong dream and have it be
because of one of my biggest insecurities."

a head shaver himself who started his business out of his apartment,
was a match made in endorsement heaven. Lund, who's not favored to win
a medal in Vancouver, has been wearing the company's logo on his helmet
in a sport that has him racing head first.

so revolutionary for Zach is, all those years, he was trying to fight
it and then he got the worst possible scenario," Greene said of his
reasons for pursuing Lund. "He got kicked out of the Olympics and he
said, screw it, I'm shaving."

and freestyle Olympic skier Shannon Bahrke say the Bionergy powder
D-Ribose goes a long way to boost their endurance and perk up tired
muscles. The substance, which they can put in food and drinks of their
choice, is an ingredient the company sells for use in commercial
supplements, but it's not sold alone.

part of her deal, Reutter has been wearing the company's logo on her
left thigh and lapel, also squeezing it onto hats and warmup suits in
the lead-up to Vancouver. In addition to the powder, Bioenergy pays her
a $2,500 monthly stipend. But Bioenergy is hardly a household name.

Reutter says, isn't a corporate suit. "I'll text him if I need
something. I can give him a call. He came to our Olympic trials. I've
hung out with him. He's not just some business person."

is and he isn't. Herrick is the sales manager for supplements and
sports nutrition for Bioenergy, a company with a stake but not a huge
one in seeing its sponsored athletes come home with medals.

a more intimate relationship between company and athlete, rather than a
corporation just showing them off to everybody," Herrick says.

got plenty of patients already in northern New Jersey. There's not much
to the arrangement he has with Reutter and several other Olympic
contenders he's worked on, beyond mentioning them on his Web site and
displaying their signed photographs with their thanks scrawled in pen.

the Olympic athletes, for the most part, they don't make a lot of money
and LASIK costs. I love the Olympics. I love sports in general and this
is something that can improve their performance so they can use every
advantage they can get."

As for
Lund, he's ready to show off his dome in Vancouver and says he's happy
to have finally qualified. That seems enough for Greene, who added:
"Hopefully he'll win by a hair."

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