'Finish Strong' message at prayer breakfast

Donelle Pardee Whiting

The banquet rooms at Five Points Washington were full of early risers at 6:30 a.m. Nov. 20 as 250 people joined together for the 14th annual Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast.

The purpose behind the breakfast is to provide a strong, insightful message the audience can take back to the workplace, Washington Chamber of Commerce director Carol Hamilton said.

Mayor Gary Manier said the tradition began after the late Bob Sommer and former mayor Don Gronewald attended a similar event in Peoria.

“When Sommer died several years back, we gave a flag to his wife, Joanne, and it flies at city hall on the day of the event. It was important for us to keep up the tradition and honor him as well,” Manier said.

Manier said the two men thought the idea would work, especially in Washington, because some of Central Illinois’ earliest churches were located here.

As part of each breakfast, the Washington Chamber of Commerce invites an inspirational speaker.

This year’s speaker, Dan Green of Naperville, delivered his “Finish Strong” message.

Everyone at the breakfast received a copy of his book and DVD of the same name.

Green recently received the trademark rights to the phrase “Finish Strong” and has a vision of spreading the message to people across the globe.

“Before Lance Armstrong was living strong, I was finishing strong,” Green said.

He added that many people think the concept is about sports.

“But it is more.” Green said. “It’s about life. It’s about putting your own personal feelings aside, sucking it up and getting the job done.”

Green talked about how people cannot change the past, and the future has not happened yet.

“You ruin the present when you worry about both,” Green said.

“You, and only you, control how you feel,” he said, adding, “It’s your choice how you react to (situations).”

Green talked about how finishing strong is an attitude, and how it is about doing whatever is necessary to reach goals.

To illustrate his message, he related several stories of people like Wilma Rudolph, who, when faced with adversity, did whatever was needed to achieve their goals.

Green also shared a story about his sister who despite what doctors and family said, stood by her husband through his illness that left him a vegetative state.

Because of her determination to stay by her husband’s side and work with him, he has since been able to relearn how to walk and talk, Green said.

Green finished by reading “The Dash” by Linda Ellis.