NEW YORK.- At the Hellenic Athletic Hall of Fame luncheon, a major annual event held during the 82nd Supreme Convention of the Order of AHEPA (American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association) held at the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami, Florida on July 18-25, 2004, tribute was paid to the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America in the form of an Olympic Proclamation in recognition of the Archdiocese “taking up the Olympic Torch” where the AHEPA left off, and for the past 26 years, has continued to keep the “Olympic spirit” alive by supporting and promoting Youth Olympiads in the Metropolises of Atlanta, New Jersey, Chicago and the Direct Archdiocesan District of New York.
The Hellenic tradition of “Athletic Excellence” as personified in the classical athletic and religious festivals of the ancient Greek world – Pythian Games (Delphi), Isthmian Games (Corinth), Nemean Games (Nemea) and most prominent, the Olympic Games in Olympia, was recognized early on by the order of AHEPA and fostered as a major objective of the AHEPA Athletic department. AHEPA athletic directors were committed to promoting the “Olympic spirit” with the goal of instilling in Greek-American youth a sense of pride in their Hellenic athletic heritage.
Presenting the Olympic Proclamation to the Rev. Father Demosthenes Mekras, Dean Emeritus of the St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral of Miami, who accepted the Proclamation on behalf of the Archdiocese and his Eminence Archbishop Demetrios (due to severe inclement weather, Archbishop Demetrios was prevented from attending the AHEPA Convention banquet) was Ahepan Peter Clentzos, representing the AHEPA Athletic department.
As AHEPA athletic director in 1935, Peter was the founder and the prime mover of AHEPA Youth Olympiads, organizing the first Olympiad in Los Angeles, with athletes from southern California competing as more than 3000 spectators looked on. AHEPA Olympiads continued in Los Angeles in 1936, 1937 and 1938, beginning on a national scale in Providence, Rhode Island, in 1939, and continuing to take place annually (except for the war years) in major cities throughout the United States and Canada up to 1982.
Now 95 years young, Peter is still actively involved as the Chairman of the AHEPA Hellenic Hall of Fame committee which recognizes outstanding Greek-Americans in the wide-world of sport and inducts them in the Hall of Fame during annual AHEPA conventions.
Peter also enjoys the title of the “Iron Man of the AHEPA” and continues to exercise daily to maintain his health and physical fitness. When asked the secret to his longevity and successful career, he said, “Ponce de Leon was looking for the Fountain of Youth and he had it within him all along… everybody has a Fountain of youth within them”. At the 1932 Olympic Games in Los Angeles he competed for Greece in the Pole Vault event placing 7th. As the only surviving Greek Olympian from the 1932 Games, Peter was recently honored by the Greek Olympic Committee during the Olympic Games in Athens, a fitting tribute to a life-time of dedication to the “Olympic spirit”.
The AHEPA Olympic Proclamation reads as follows:
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the membership of the order of AHEPA along with the Supreme Lodge at the 82nd Supreme Convention in the city of Miami Beach, Florida DO HEREBY EXTEND OUR SINCERE CONGRATULATIONS TO THE GREEK ORTHODOX ARCHDIOCESE OF AMERICA FOR ITS SUCCESSFUL EFFORTS IN THIS 26TH ANNIVERSARY OF CONDUCTING YOUTH OLYMPIADS IN THE DIRECT ARCHDIOCESAN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK AND THE METROPOLISES OF ATLANTA, NEW JERSEY AND CHICAGO. And by so doing, therefore, encouraging YOUTH PARTICIPATION in this “ANCIENT AND NOBLE” athletic event which promotes the “SPIRIT OF FELLOWSHIP AND PEACE THROUGH SPORT” and which brought ancient Greek warring City-States together to engage, for a period of time, in cultural and athletic competition.
HEREWITH, THEREFORE, the Order of AHEPA pledges to ENDORSE, SUPPORT AND PROMOTE the ARCHDIOCESAN YOUTH OLYMPIADS well into the 21st century.
WE DO HEREBY set our hands and our cause to be affixed the official seal (logo) on this day of Wednesday, July 21st, 2004 Miami Beach, Florida at the 82nd ANNUAL NATIONAL SUPREME CONVENTION.
A. Jack Georgalas
AHEPA Supreme President
Dr. Monthe Kofos
AHEPA Supreme Athletic Director