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-

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