New recognition program in the works

Published 4:30 pm Tuesday, December 31, 2013

An Olympic gold medalist now with the Salvation Army in Suffolk hopes a new awards program will encourage folks to act selflessly for the benefit of the community.

LaTasha Colander Clark, a 4×400-meter relay gold medalist at the 2000 Sydney Olympics and a 200-meter silver medalist in the 2005 USA Outdoor Championships — among other highlights — joined the Salvation Army just before Thanksgiving.



Though she was born in Portsmouth, her family’s roots in Suffolk run deep. Her grandfather, Dr. Obadiah Colander, founded Faith Temple Ministries on Wellons Street.

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Clark says she is starting America Rocks, a Christian-based program sponsored by the Salvation Army, to reach out into the community and recognize those who are making a difference in the lives of others.

“We want to go especially into the schools, in order to celebrate administrators, students, and student athletes who have made a difference in another person’s life,” she said.

“It’s (about) people who are just ordinary but are doing extraordinary things for others.”

Clark is calling for award nominations, which can be emailed to

She hopes awards will be presented in every Suffolk school, but ultimately that depends on where the nominations come from.

“We have called all the schools and we are hoping nominations come from all the schools so can celebrate someone in each school,” Clark said.

The program is operating on an open-ended timeframe. The aim is for awards to be presented in schools before the summer, Clark said, while non-school awards may be awarded beyond then.

“It’s also open to the community,” she said. “If we get, for instance, a story that’s very inspiring, and it’s after June, we may also give awards out during the summer. We want to start with the schools, though.”

Award winners at schools would be announced over the PA system, she said, and celebrated with the presentation of a plaque.

“It’s sponsored by the Salvation Army, because we are about helping others,” Clark said. “I’m hoping that something as small as love can be powerful to a country that really needs it.”

Clark said a lot of folks helped her achieve the dream of running for America, and she now wants to give back.

“Jesus Christ opened the door for me by giving me the talent,” she said. “This is a way for me to be able to inspire others.”

Nominations should include the name of the person being nominated, why they’re being nominated, and the nominator’s full name and contact information.

Clark said she’s also planning other events and activities to improve the community.