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Chris Hennessee

Motlow State alumnus to be Olympic Torchbearer

Chris Hennessee was recently selected to carry the Olympic Flame. Chris Hennessee, a Motlow graduate and resident of Warren County, was recently selected to carry the Olympic Flame ahead of the upcoming Rio 2016 Olympic Games. He was nominated by a co-worker, whose letter of recommendation praised Hennessee for his dedicated and caring treatment of employees as a manager at Bridgestone Americas, Inc.

By Buddy Bumpus, Staff Writer

LYNCHBURG, TN (June 7, 2016) — Motlow State Community College alumnus Chris Hennessee, of McMinnville, was recently selected to carry the iconic Olympic Flame ahead of the 2016 Olympic Games to be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The 2016 Olympic Torch Relay, which is presented by Coca Cola, Nissan and Bradesco, will travel through more than 300 Brazilian cities over three months en route to Rio, with Hennessee serving as a torchbearer in July.

The honor came as quite a surprise to Hennessee, a sixteen-year employee at Bridgestone Americas, Inc., in Warren County. Bridgestone received a small number of torchbearer spots in the relay; seven from the United States. The company decided to offer these opportunities to employees, and opened up nominations from within the company, basing the selections on mentorship and coaching.

Bridgestone employees, or teammates, were asked to nominate a mentor or colleague who helped build their performance at Bridgestone, or who helped them shape their career.

"I had no clue" said Hennessee, regarding being nominated by his fellow employee, Christine David. "I didn't even know the letter (of nomination) had been submitted until I had made the final cut of ten nominees."

According to David's letter, Hennessee was instrumental not only in bringing her to Bridgestone to work, but also in her professional and personal growth.

"The first encouraging words Chris said to me were 'You can do this!'" said David, in her letter of nomination for Hennessee. "Without Chris' encouragement, I do not believe I would be involved as I am, or would have built the relationships I have within the Warren Plant and in our community. I could never repay Chris for all his words of encouragement and assistance when I needed it the most."

The road for Hennessee to become a successful Bridgestone employee began almost 20 years ago when he attended Motlow State and earned his associate degree in 1997.

"Having Motlow in my home town was a blessing." Hennessee said. "I needed the smaller college atmosphere, since I had not been successful at Tennessee Tech my first semester there. Motlow provided me a smaller setting, more one on one with teachers, and an environment I was comfortable with. It got me prepared to go on (back) to Tennessee Tech to get my four-year degree."

From his academic endeavors it is obvious Hennessee is driven to be successful. Having worked on the production line at Bridgestone for an extended period of time, he returned to Motlow in 2010 as a non-traditional student, and took the additional courses necessary to go back to Tennessee Tech to earn his bachelor's degree in Business Management. Soon thereafter he was promoted to his current position of Area Business Manager.

When asked what it means to receive the Torchbearer opportunity, Hennessee said, "It is a tremendous honor to know that I made a difference in someone's life, and to have it published to my teammates at the company. I am overwhelmed by something so unexpected, and it is very humbling. My plant is very excited about it, and a lot of good successes have come out of it."