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WNY Olympic diary: Regan family proud to represent Buffalo in Rio

The Buffalo News is publishing Rio diaries from some of the Western New York families who have competitors at the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Larry Regan is the father of rower Emily Regan.

By Larry Regan

RIO DE JANEIRO -- The Regan family touched down in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on Thursday morning after a nine-hour flight from Newark Liberty International Airport. A short layover and flight later we set foot in the hallways of the Rio de Janeiro airport ready for a once-in-a-lifetime Olympic experience.

My wife, Barb, and I are fortunate to be the parents of four considerate, respectful and talented children. My mother oftentimes said how having four children of her own was the best thing she ever did or accomplished in life. Barb and I learned quickly how right Mom Regan was. Family is a blessing, as are good friends and a strong, resilient community to call home. I like to think that our family is much like all other Western New York families; hard working and proud Buffalonians.

We are here to support our daughter/sister/granddaughter/niece Emily, who put to excellent use character traits that define a Buffalonian; hard work, dedication, perseverance, sacrifice and resiliency. She is an ordinary young lady yet achieved something extraordinary in becoming an Olympian. Barb and I always believed each of our children could and would be successful with loving support, some sacrifice on our part and the most important ingredient, a willingness on their part to work as diligently as possible in whatever endeavor they chose or engaged in, be it academics, sports, work or being a kind and respectful person.

It is an exciting time for Emily. She dedicated the last six, if not more, years of her life to achieve her dream of becoming an Olympian. To say her family is proud would be an understatement.

[GALLERY: WNY's fabulous five Olympians in Rio]

She reached the top of the pyramid. As with any pyramid it only as strong as its foundation. She would be the first to tell you how important the support and encouragement of so many was in her journey to Rio. She had many influential coaches, including St. Greg's and Sweet Home Aquatics swim coaches Ken Munroe, Vince and Dan McCarthy, her high school cross country coach Roddy Potter and mentor Beth Stone from Nichols, Michigan State rowing coach Matt Weise and each of his assistants, along with USRowing coaches Tom Terhaar and Laurel Korholz. They are all different. Yet each one played a significant role in making Emily the athlete and person and athlete she is today through their interest and support.

Family and coaches played a big part in bringing Emily to the brink of the Olympic Games. Her teammates, though, played the biggest role in her rowing career. Her Spartan teammates at Michigan State helped her love rowing through the camaraderie only a team can inspire. She said often how much she loves her teammates.

[A WNYer's guide to the Rio Olympics]

Venturing from East Lansing, Mich., to Princeton, N.J., and the United States Princeton Training Center brought her more outstanding people as teammates. Each woman she has been lucky enough to call a teammate has made her a better rower and person. There was a special spirit at Michigan State and Emily is one amongst the women that make up the women's USRowing team, which fosters a commitment to each other and excellence. Barb and I have been awed by these women and all their dedicated effort in search of excellence.

This journey came to be as a result of Emily's resiliency and dedication. But it would have been far more difficult, if not impossible, without the help of so many. So our family says thank you with a big heart and much gratitude to everyone who helped Emily become a U.S. Olympian. We invite each one of you to join us as we live the dream right along with our daughter.

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