Before They Were Famous

James SavageThroughout my 19-year career in public relations, I’ve been fortunate enough to meet and work with some highly recognized and accomplished athletes, performers, chefs and winemakers.

As examples, I’ve managed media-only golf course previews with golf legends Jack Nicklaus and Johnny Miller and promoted Warren Miller ski films with Olympic gold medalist Jonny Moseley and World Champion Darren Rahlves. Through publicizing events, I’ve had the opportunity to meet several San Francisco Giants players and Manager Bruce Bochy, as well as Grammy Award and Oscar winner Lionel Ritchie.

In specializing in culinary and wine clients, I’ve worked with acclaimed chefs including Thomas Keller and Ken Frank and celebrated winemakers Philippe Melka and Heidi Peterson Barrett, the first winemaker for Napa Valley cult wine Screaming Eagle.

While it’s personally and professionally thrilling to meet and work with famous individuals and leaders in their respective fields, it’s also gratifying to work with those who may be on their way to the top, perhaps even contributing to their rise to prominence.

Chef Roy Choi pioneered the food truck movement in Los Angeles, a trend that has now literally swept the entire country. You can’t walk a block in Portland without running into a food truck. You can say the same about Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago and New York City. I worked with Roy when he was the chef at the Embassy Suites Lake Tahoe Resort. Who knew he would go on to be named one of the top 10 “Best New Chefs” of 2010 by Food and Wine magazine, the first food truck operator to win that distinction.

Now, Fineman PR has the privilege of meeting nine-year-old James Savage. Earlier this year, James completed the three-mile swim from San Francisco Aquatic Park to Alcatraz in a little more than two hours, becoming the youngest person to accomplish this feat.

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Working with our client, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey’s Out of This World, we’ve invited James to be the honorary “Space Fleet Launch Captain” to lead the countdown for tonight’s performance at the SAP Center in San Jose. James’ role with performance has been covered by the Associated Press and he was live, in-studio this morning, on the popular drive-time radio show Sarah & Vinnie.

Will James continue his swimming career and go on to further achievements? Maybe he’ll be the next Michael Phelps, and we can say we knew him when.

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