Still chasing after Lochte

Published 10:30 pm Tuesday, January 15, 2013

King’s Fork senior swimmer Danielle Jennette did not get U.S. Olympic gold-medalist Ryan Lochte to take her to the prom, but she did receive a dozen roses and a letter from him along with national media attention for her impressive social-networking campaign.

Late last year, King’s Fork senior Danielle Jennette dedicated herself to getting 11-time U.S. Olympic medalist Ryan Lochte to take her to the prom. Her initiative has now garnered national attention and, more important, the attention of Lochte himself.

Her efforts to win Lochte’s escort included the creation of a Twitter account, Facebook page, YouTube video, and even a website raising money for one of his charities, Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy.

Following the Suffolk News-Herald article featuring her campaign on New Year’s Day, things really began to pick up steam. A local TV station was the next to pick up the story.

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“WTKR did a story on me, and then one of the writers for USA Swimming did a story on me,” Jennette said.

The article was published on on Jan. 11.

“And then from there, a couple days later I got a direct message on Ryan Lochte’s Twitter that said, ‘Hey, Danielle, this is Janice Lee, his publicist,’” Jennette said.

Lee asked Jennette to contact her, which she did via e-mail. Lee’s response let Jennette know how far her campaign had reached.

Jennette paraphrased the email she received: “‘Ryan has seen all your efforts and everything, and it hasn’t gone unnoticed, and he definitely wants to send you something, but he’s training six days a week for the next six months, so he won’t be able to attend your prom.’”

Lee later called Jennette, relayed her regrets that Ryan would not be able to take her to the prom and said she would be receiving something in the mail by five o’clock that day.

“Thirty minutes later, my mom answers the door, and there’s a dozen roses and this letter, and I was just kind of thinking, ‘Well, I guess it’s from Ryan,’” Jennette said. “And sure enough, he basically said, ‘I’m sorry I couldn’t make it to your prom, everything you’ve done for Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy is awesome, and maybe I’ll get to meet you in the Olympic games one day.’ So, that was pretty awesome. I didn’t even know what to think.”

This week, the story has become prominent in the national media. Glamour magazine’s site posted a story, the celebrity news and gossip site Just Jared did, as well, and the Australia Edition of the International Business Times also waded in, to name just a few.

“I’m getting all these links from people saying they had written their own article about me and it was pretty cool,” Jennette said. “I’ve never even heard of some of those websites, nor did they tell me that I was going to be mentioned in them.”

Lee left Jennette with an open-ended statement.

“She said, ‘It doesn’t end here,’” Jennette said.

Jennette wondered if that meant that his coming was still a possibility, but she explained that she understands that he is training a lot.

“It was just nice of him to send me anything at all,” she said. “I expected maybe like a T-shirt or something and got a dozen roses, so that was awesome.”

And Jennette is not done raising money for Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy, a charity leading the fight to end Duchenne, the most common fatal genetic disorder diagnosed in childhood. Her goal is to reach $2,013 in honor of her graduation year. As of Tuesday, she had raised $410.

On Thursday, she is throwing a Swim-A-Thon at the YMCA Camp Arrowhead pool on Kenyon Road to take place during the King’s Fork swim team’s practice. Jennette swims for King’s Fork. The plan is to use her swimming ability and that of her teammates to raise money.

“I handed out sheets, and they’re going to go get people to sponsor them to swim a certain number of laps or just give them a flat rate, and we’re going to give that to Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy,” she said.

The event will take place from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m.