Oct 17, 2018
2018 Celebrity Walk and Breakfast

Children's Treatment Centre CELEBRITY WALK & BREAKFAST

As a medal winning Olympic backstroker, Margaret Hoelzer knows you sometimes have to face backwards to move forward in a powerful way.

A survivor of childhood sexual abuse, the champion confronted her past and now works as an advocate for the National Children's Advocacy Center (NCAC) in the U.S., an agency that played a pivotal role in helping her and her family move past the trauma. Hoelzer will tell her story October 17th as guest speaker at the Celebrity Walk and Breakfast in support of the Children's Treatment Centre.

The event will be at the Cornwall Civic Complex, with breakfast from 6-7:00 and Hoelzer's speech at 7:15. Tickets are available from the Centre.

At age five, the future Olympian was molested by the father of a friend. The sexual assaults continued for two years until the offender moved. For years, Hoelzer bottled up the frustration, telling no one about the sexual assaults until confiding in a friend when she was 11 years old. That friend encouraged Hoelzer to tell her parents who then called police. Authorities put her in touch with the NCAC which had investigators, doctors, and mental health professionals under one roof.

At about the same time, swimming became a healthy outlet for Hoelzer as she channeled her angst and anger into excellence in the pool. Though her drive to win sprang partly from a need to show herself and others she wasn't damaged or inferior, it brought her great success.

She won her first gold medal at the 2002 Pan Pacific Championships and competed in her first Olympics in 2004. In 2008, she swam for the U.S. Olympic team in three events, taking the bronze and two silvers.

Today, the Seattle, Washington resident still shares her drive and determination with young swimmers cross the country, and serves as a safe sport representative for national swimming organizations. She has a psychology degree with a minor in criminology, and is pursuing a graduate degree in sociology to become a psychologist. She wants to help young abuse victims, or study the criminals who sexually assault them.

Hoelzer also hopes to start her own foundation, and works tirelessly to raise awareness. She received the Voice of Courage award from Darkness to Light, a non-profit dedicated to preventing childhood sexual abuse, and encourages victims with one key piece of advice.

"Be that squeaky wheel," she says. "Tell somebody. Get help."

Milton Ellis,Chair
Children's Treatment Centre
Celebrity Walk & Breakfast Committee
Monday, September 10, 2018