Most Amazing, Inspirational Athlete (1 Viewer)

Kicks

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What athlete amazes and/or inspires you the most? Here's my hero:

Several months ago I photographed some young boys and girls around your age for a project I wanted to do. I had them dress as angels and recreate some old, vintage images. I then made Christmas cards from these photos. I call these kids and this series My Little Angels.


Several of the girls are on the same gymnastics team. This past weekend they competed in a gymnastics meet, to which I was the photographer. One is a 9 year old girl I want to tell you about.

The first time I saw her compete was earlier this year. She totally amazed me. I took some awesome photos of her. I got to meet her when she came to the photo project as a Little Angel. She was kind of quiet and shy, but always a smile on her face and very sweet. She became one of my favorites. We laughed a lot and did several goofy pictures besides the serious ones; ie. attached image. It was a great time. I was happy to see her again on Saturday.

In a gymnastics meet the girls compete in four events: balance beam, uneven bars, vault, and floor exercise. During their event they sit and rest while watching the other girls compete. Then they get to sit and watch the other events once their event is finished. They rotate from one event to the other, warm up for that event and then compete.


I noticed that while all the other girls were resting this one Little Angel was made to do pushups, jump rope, bounce, stretch, sit against a wall with her arms extended and do jumping jacks. They kept her exercising the entire two (2) hours of the meet, non-stop. I jokingly asked her coach if she was being punished. He laughed and said no. Then he came to me and told me something that broke my heart.


You see, My Little Angel has a rare muscle disease that causes her muscles to lock up all of a sudden, without notice. They have to keep her muscles active and warmed up so they don’t lock up when she competing, like on the balance beam or flying on the uneven bars, or during a tumble flip on floor exercise. The could lead to serious injury. They discovered the disease after she was already doing gymnastics. She was competing in a meet and running down the runway to do a vault when her muscles locked up and she went falling on her face on the runway. It was awful. So she has to stay active to prevent that from happening.


Her face was flushed, but she always had a smile on her face. Her teammates would join her exercising to keep her spirits up, but they couldn’t keep up with her. She had (has) the heart of a lion, a champion. It made me very emotional and I had to hold back tears.

So where am I going with this? I don’t really know, other than for My Little Angel, I don’t know how much longer she has to do her thing. I know that she enjoys it so much that she is willing to do whatever it takes. All I can do for her is pray and share her story so maybe it will inspire someone else as much as she has amazed and inspired me.

<O:p</O:p
 

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