- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Jessica Lynch has become a motivational speaker.

The slight blonde who went from broken prisoner of war and national hero to an instant and controversial celebrity has taken on a new public identity, offering her story in a presentation titled “Survival is a Choice.”

Next week, Miss Lynch will journey to Florida to christen the Miracle, a new Carnival Cruise Lines ship, with a bottle of champagne.

But come April 6, the former Army private will appear at the MCI Center on behalf of “Get Motivated” — a frantic, daylong sales seminar that also showcases former New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, whose topic is “How to Lead in Difficult Times.”

Olympic gold medal skaters Jamie Sale and David Pelletier also are to appear, as is former Microsoft President Rick Belluzzo.

The seminar is the brainchild of Peter Lowe, a Tampa, Fla.-based entrepreneur who has transformed motivational workshops into showbiz productions in recent years with fireworks, merchandising and such speakers as former President Bill Clinton and former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

Now, it is Miss Lynch’s turn.

“This will be her first time as motivational speaker, to my knowledge,” Mr. Lowe said yesterday. “And her topic is really about perseverance, a common denominator for success among all of us. It’s a tremendous lesson to learn.”

Miss Lynch has been booked for the seminars in several other cities, Mr. Lowe said.

“We found that she had become available, and we hired her,” he added.

Though she still uses a crutch for walking, the West Virginia native — who turns 21 in late April — has begun to craft a cautious public presence as injuries she sustained when her Army convoy was attacked in Iraq in March slowly mend.

Her subsequent capture by Iraqis and her dramatic rescue by U.S. troops inspired a genuine but erroneous frenzy among journalists intent on crafting a heroine, sending Miss Lynch on an uneven ride through celebrityhood.

Nevertheless, she landed a $1 million book deal, an NBC movie, and a parade of appearances on TV talk shows that included a public denouncement of the Bush administration.

“They used me to symbolize all this stuff. It’s wrong,” Miss Lynch told ABC.

But the glaring lights are fading. Miss Lynch’s biography sold only 57,000 copies in its six-week run in the marketplace after a timely Veterans Day release. Her spate of speaking engagements was not handled by her former agent at International Creative Management, a spokesman said.

Calls to her attorney Stephen Goodwin were not returned yesterday.

Miss Lynch, nonetheless, recently appeared at the Golden Globe film awards in the company of former POW Shoshana Johnson, also rescued by U.S. troops. Miss Johnson also has become a public speaker in recent months.

Miss Lynch also appeared at the Gator Bowl and before the West Virginia Legislature in January.

When she christens the new ship Feb. 27, Carnival Cruise Lines will make an “undisclosed contribution” to the Jessica Lynch Foundation, an organization she founded to provide scholarships to military children.

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