This is a story that will be familiar to anyone who’s been close to Denison over the past eight years, about a beloved and remarkable man who has touched many lives here, who now walks onto the world stage this month as he begins his Olympic journey.
In a recent feature published by National Public Radio, 2012 Denison graduate Makorobondo “Dee” Salukombo said in the most matter-of-fact way “If it’s hard, it’s worth doing.”
It’s a simple maxim with roots planted firmly in the ethos of The American Dream. Growing up in the Congo, in the midst of civil war, dreams were all Salukombo had. At the age of 12, Dee and his family fled the Congo as refugees to Uganda. His father, Fanchon, was imprisoned and extorted for what little money they had. If not for a lone prison guard who aided in Fanchon’s escape, this could have been where the story ended for the Salukombo family.
Instead, Fanchon made his way to Uganda, reuniting with his family. After three years in Uganda, the family applied to leave the country with their hopes set on the United States. The United Nations and Catholic Charities of Cleveland placed the family in the suburb of Lakewood, Ohio.