West BloomfieldJune 21, 2012
McDonald’s contest winner to see Olympics
By Eric Czarnik
C & G Staff Writer
Elena Hirsch is going to London to see the 2012 Summer Olympics, and she is lovin’ it.
On June 15, the fourth-grader from West Hills Middle School learned that she was selected as a top 10 finalist in a McDonald’s Happy Meal Chefs contest. As a result, she will join nine other contest winners to take part in the restaurant chain’s Global Champions of Play program in Britain.
She will also get a chance to watch part of the Olympics, which take place July 27-Aug. 12.
“I was amazed,” Elena said. “There were thousands of people entering. I thought we might have a tiny chance. I was so surprised.”
Elena, 9, of West Bloomfield, and her mother, Sarah, found out about the contest online; it was open to kids ages 8-11 from March 5-April 18.
Because the contest is promoting McDonald’s stated commitment to healthier kids meals, Hirsch had to answer essay questions about family meals and put together an online video showing her commitment to a healthy lifestyle. The video had to include the federal government’s MyPlate dietary guidelines.
For their online video, Elena and her mother recruited their family to stage a “Kitchen Olympics” to fit the contest’s theme. Elena cooked a healthy meal, and family members played the part of judges who scored the food’s quality.
“We actually got to make this chicken with bread crumbs and parmesan,” she said.
A panel of food and exercise experts, including Olympic swimming champion Dara Torres, picked the winners based on creativity, relevance, teamwork and more. In a statement, Torres said she was particularly impressed with Elena’s video.
“I was also interested to read about Elena’s interest in the swimming competitions at the Olympics, a sport I am personally involved in,” Torres said.
Elena learned about her selection as a finalist during a surprise visit to a Farmington Hills McDonald’s June 15. During the party, her family celebrated and watched congratulation videos from U.S. gymnast Shawn Johnson and Torres. She also received prizes like a McDonald’s T-shirt, a poster and an autographed picture of Johnson.
When Elena travels to London this summer, she may attend certain Olympic events, do healthy cooking activities and meet with athletes, according to organizers.
She said she can’t wait to see London’s bridges, Big Ben and other city landmarks. She also looks forward to seeing the swimming and volleyball competitions in person.
“It’s cool to see the athletes play lots of different sports,” Elena said. “Everyone watches it, and it’s really cool because it’s only the best (competing).”
Sarah Hirsch said she is invited to come along and chaperone her daughter. She is making personal arrangements to bring along the rest of the family and extend the trip, so they can visit other parts of the island, such as Scotland.
“I’ve been to London before,” she said. “But I’m excited about it all. The Olympics is kind of a big deal.”
To learn more about the contest, visit https://happymealchefs.mcdonalds.com.
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