Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Avery Downing

I recently learned of a little girl in Memphis who suffered a life altering injury.  My heart is breaking for 13 year old gymnast, Avery Downing.  During a routine practice, Avery slipped from the high bar and fell to the ground nearly severing her spinal cord.  She was rushed to the hospital where she endured hours of surgery to place rods along her spine and re-align her mangled back.  Avery is paralyzed from the pelvic bone down.  

I wouldn't have known about Avery if not for some very special people in my life.  I have spent over 20 years in this sport, and have met some incredible people.  One of my former teammates, (and current athlete) at UW-Whitewater knows Avery very well.  As one might imagine, the people who do know Avery are thoroughly devastated by the news of her prognosis.  According to those who know her, Avery is a very, very special little girl.  She has an incredible faith, which I completely admire in anyone, let alone a 13 year old.  She even had a bible verse written on her arm the day she fell.  

Another very special person I know, who has also had the privilege of meeting Avery told me just how special she really is.  I could tell by the way her eyes lit up when she spoke about her, this little girl means the world to everyone who knows her.  From what I can tell, she is an amazing teammate and a great role model to the younger girls in her gym.  

Most athletes, especially gymnasts, are aware of the risks that are involved with the sport they love so much.  Sometimes it hurts, sometimes it's scary, but we do it because we love to... and sometimes we do it in spite of those fears and the risks that mock us.  Most athletes suffer injuries, and most of those injuries heal.  But what if they didn't... what if in one split second, life as you know it could change completely.  

Avery has a long road ahead of her.  She will soon move to a rehabilitation center where she will begin physical therapy.  Her coaches and teammates have set up a fundraiser to help Avery's family with the impending medical costs of her treatment and rehabilitation.  

Please visit the Team Avery website to hear more about Avery's story, messages from her coaches, and see how you can help!  Or, follow Inside Gymnastics on Twitter, for updates on Avery!  @InsideGym

Since Avery is such a spiritual little girl, I found this verse that I am sure will resonate with everyone!

"I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”   John 16:33

Please include Avery Downing in your prayers, and for those of you in the gymnastics world, please feel free to share this story with anyone who may want to help!  

Love True-

Monday, January 9, 2012

Happy Anniversary!

Most of you know that I am a huge supporter of an organization called, Team True Beauty.  This group works to help prevent eating disorders and the social stigma surrounding body image in the media.  Over the weekend, the ladies of Team True Beauty hosted a one year anniversary event to celebrate the success of the first year of this wonderful organization.  In previous blogs, I have discussed just how much this organization has meant to me.  I also mentioned the inspiring joy I felt to be recognized by this group for my story.  I was honored to be acknowledged for my triumphs and humbled by their generosity.  Though I couldn't be there in person for this incredible celebration, I was definitely there in spirit.

One of their celebrity supporters is an actress named Shantel VanSanten.  I've been very vocal in my thanks to this woman for her inspiring and compassionate work for Team True Beauty, and her support of young women everywhere.  She is a powerful voice for this organization and the reason I found them in the first place.  I am so grateful for what I have learned from Shantel.  Even though I have never met her in person, she is the source of a lot of my strength.  Her honesty in sharing her own struggles gave me a sense of power and courage that I hadn't known before.  It immediately provoked me to contact this team, and become a part of their inspiring movement.

"Embrace yourself, what you are in your heart, so that you might uplift others.  Because what you do with your life, how you live it, the things you accomplish, the mountains you climb, the struggles you work through, how you treat one another, the kindness you show, the people you inspire, the love that you give... that is what defines your heart, and that's what matters, not what you look like when you do those things in life." -SVS

A Team True Beauty supporter posted a video of Shantel's speech at the event.  I was so grateful to be able to see this, and for a moment, feel as though I was there.  Please check out her entire speech.  It is a very moving and inspiring.  TTB Anniversary Event Speech - SVS

Day 25: PLEASE check out Team True Beauty on their website, facebook, or twitter accounts.  Join the movement, and help change the world!

TTB Website
TTB on Facebook
TTB on Twitter

Love True-

Monday, January 2, 2012

Seasons of Love

Happy 2012, Everyone!

I hope you all had a wonderful, exciting and safe New Year's celebration.  I have welcomed 2012 with open arms and am completely ready to experience the new and exciting challenges that life has to offer me.  Even though we are in a new year, I wanted to take some time to think about 2011.  What I learned, what I experienced, etc. I think the best way to move forward to a new year is to look back and remember everything that happened to lead us to this point.  Everything happens for a reason right?  So whether it was a great year for you... or a really crummy one, we all learned from our experiences and we are all growing because of what we learned each day.

As a musical theater freak, I have always loved this song.  I thought that given the new year, it might be special to look back before we look forward; Give thanks for the year that has passed.  How do you measure the worth of a year?  Was it a good one?  Though it could easily be debated for any individual, I think the measure of a year comes from what you have learned, how you have lived your life... how you have loved, not only others, but yourself as well.

Rent - "Seasons of Love"

Five Hundred Twenty-Five Thousand
Six Hundred Minutes
Five Hundred Twenty-Five Thousand
Moments so dear
Five Hundred Twenty-Five Thousand
Six Hundred Minutes
How Do You Measure - Measure A Year?
In Daylights - In Sunsets
In Midnights - In Cups Of Coffee
In Inches - In Miles
In Laughter - In Strife

In - Five Hundred Twenty-Five Thousand
Six Hundred Minutes
How Do You Measure
A Year In The Life?

How About Love?
How About Love?
How About Love?
Measure In Love

Seasons of Love.
Seasons of Love.

Five Hundred Twenty-Five Thousand
Six Hundred Minutes
Five Hundred Twenty-Five Thousand
Journeys To Plan
[ Lyrics from: http://www.lyricsmode.com/lyrics/r/rent/seasons_of_love.html ]
Five Hundred Twenty-Five Thousand
Six Hundred Minutes
How Do You Measure The Life
Of A Woman Or A Man

In Truth That She Learned
Or In Times That He Cried
In Bridges He Burned
Or The Way That She Died

It's Time Now - To Sing Out
Though The Story Never Ends
Let's Celebrate
Remember A Year In The Life Of Friends

Remember the Love
Remember the Love
Remember the Love
Measure In Love

Oh you got to you got to remember the love, 
You know that love is a gift from up above
Share love, give love, spread love
Measure, measure your life in love.

Seasons Of Love(2x)

Measure your life, measure your life in love

2011 was definitely a learning year for me.  I am very grateful for that year, and I wanted to share with you all some of the very memorable things that happened to me.

*I graduated with a Master's Degree! WOOT!

*Four of my very favorite people got married and are now embarking on a new life journeys with their soul mates! Congratulations, Katie Spanel Parks, Justine Weyer Goodman, Caitlin Mullen Puterbaugh and Danni Doll Pietrzyk!!! I wish you all the love this world has to offer!
*My little sister graduated with her Master's Degree!  So proud of you, Abby!
*3 of my dearest friends got engaged!  I can't wait to help you celebrate your special days!!!! Congratulations to Ashley George (Buol), Nicole Cealka (Weinmann) and Lauren Corrigan (Wick)!!!

*My wonderful, amazing and incredible parents both turned 50... and celebrated 27 years of marriage.  I owe them EVERYTHING and am so grateful for their unconditional love and support.  
*My sweet, great grandmother joined Jesus in heaven.  Rest in Peace Dora May! And say hi to Grandma Bowman for me! =)
*I got to see, first hand how wonderful of a mother my friend Angel is, and I couldn't be more proud of who she has become.  
*I got to witness my gymnastics team win a second consecutive conference championship... this time from the prospective of a coach... and it was one of my happiest and proudest moments.  

*I got to see nearly ALL of my family members this year.  In one fantastic reunion, and two trips to Minnesota.  I am so grateful for the time I was able to share with my amazing loved ones.  

*I started my own gymnastics program, to give more kids the opportunity to fall in love with the sport that gives me so much joy.  
*I found the courage to share my story with an organization who has completely changed my life, and I am so grateful to be a voice for them.  

I hope you all can look back and have some happy memories as well!  I am so grateful for the time and love that I've had this year!  I am extremely blessed, and I am looking forward to life in 2012!  

Love True-