50 Notable Alumni

Bonnie Blair Cruikshank

Motivational Speaker

General Studies

Classes at Parkland: 1982 to 1987

Bonnie Blair Cruikshank grew up in Champaign, Illinois and started skating when she was just two years old, following in the footsteps of her five older brothers and sisters.

As a speed skater, Bonnie is the most decorated Winter Olympian in U.S. Olympic history and the winningest American woman in Winter Olympics history. She won gold medals in the 500 and 1,000 meter races at Lillehammer, Norway in 1994; in the 500 and 1,000 meter race, in Albertville, France in 1992; and in the 500 meter race in Calgary, Canada in 1988. She also won a bronze medal in the 1,000 meter race in Calgary.

In addition to her numerous gold medals, Bonnie has been bestowed with many awards including 1994 Female Athlete of the Year from the Associated Press, 1994 Sportswoman of the Year from Sports Illustrated, inducted in to USOC Olympic Hall of Fame 2004, and winner of the 2000 ESPY Award for American Female Olympian. Bonnie is also the recipient of the Sullivan Award, given to the top amateur, American athlete; named one of the Century’s Five Best Female Athletes by Sports Magazine; and was the recipient of the 2003 American Association of Community Colleges Outstanding Alumni Award.

Bonnie’s athletic achievements also include 11 gold medals in the World Sprint Championships and she is also a 10-time U.S. National Sprint Champion. She won the World Sprint Speed Skating Championship in overall points in 1994 and 1989 and twice in 1992.

Her achievements and national recognition have led her to her current role as a successful motivational speaker. Her dedication, hard work, and humbleness are an inspiration to those who meet her.

Bonnie’s most memorable moments at Parkland were “…being nervous (at first) but I seemed to fit in and class sizes were similar to my high school, so once I was there a bit, it just felt like a ‘small step up,’ which was good for me.”