Three-time Olympian has medals stolen from Kirkland home

Betsy Hills speaks to students as the St. Thomas School Director Kirk Wheeler stands draped in her medals that were stolen on Dec. 2. - Photo by Jennifer Winter, St. Thomas School photographer
Betsy Hills speaks to students as the St. Thomas School Director Kirk Wheeler stands draped in her medals that were stolen on Dec. 2.
— image credit: Photo by Jennifer Winter, St. Thomas School photographer

Three-time Olympian Betsy McCagg Hills had all of her rowing medals stolen after a burglar broke into her Kirkland home on Dec. 2.

The medals, worth nothing monetarily but everything to Hills, represent her hard work and dedication during the course of 12 years competing internationally.

“I have a twin sister and she said ‘Oh you can just borrow some of mine’ and it’s just not the same,” said Hills, who works at St. Thomas School in Medina.

Hills and her twin sister Mary McCagg-Larin were inducted into the National Rowing Hall of Fame in 2012. The two Kirkland natives grew up rowing in Seattle waters only to find themselves winning their first World Championship gold medal in 1995.

Hills moved back to her Kirkland hometown three years ago, where her parents still live.

On the day of the burglary, Hills’s husband came home to pick up their daughter and noticed the desk had been riffled through, the bureaus were empty and all of Hills’s jewelry was gone.

Hills said the jewelry wasn’t particularly fancy or worth very much -- mainly jewelry her students handmade or gifts from parents.

But most devastating was a missing wooden box that kept 12 years’ worth of World Championship medals.

“Since then we’ve talked with police, but there’s really nothing we can do except check eBay and Craigslist,” Hills said. “I’ve talked to the pawn shops but they said they wouldn’t take something like that because it would probably be stolen.”

Hills said her silver and gold medals aren’t really made of silver or gold.

“I think that part of it … you feel bad someone must have been really desperate,” she said, adding that her 30 or so medals were boxed up because she recently went to speak about her competitions at a school.

Her children, ages 5 and 7, don’t know about the burglary and Hills admits to not showing the medals to her children yet and is disappointed she may never get to.

Ironically, this isn’t the first time her World Championship gold medal was stolen.

When she was training in the 1996 games, she and her team lent their medals to their manager for a fundraiser only to have them stolen from the manager’s motel room in Georgia.

She was able to get another one after a special request to recast the plastic medal.

Hills is in the process of trying to talk with the international rowing group to see if she can get a replica of some of the smaller World Championship regatta medals that she won in Italy.

For now, all Hills can do is hope they’re not thrown away.

To report a tip on where Hills’s Olympic medals may be located, call the Kirkland Police Department at 425-587-3515.

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