We Are Each Just One…But Imagine What We Can Do Together if We AIM HIGH.
Sirens were squealing and the rain was pouring down when the roof collapsed on nearly 60 people, mostly children, at a gymnastics club in Oklahoma yesterday.
Miraculously, no one was seriously injured and the fire fighters were able to carry the terrified kids to the arms of their parents.
The news of this story left me with a combination of relief, empathy and deep sadness.
I was relieved, of course, because everyone was safe.
I empathized immediately because I know how terrifying it can be to have an act of nature threaten your club.
But my deep sadness comes from my worry that this special gem of a gym club might struggle to rebuild.
You see, Aim High Academy is not your typical gym club. Its purpose is to serve kids who seldom get the benefit of gymnastics, the urban poor. Located in the North Tulsa area of Oklahoma, the zip codes served by Aim High are grim:
- 25% of the children go to bed hungry every night
- It leads the state in the highest percentage of births to mothers age 17 or under in the state
- And boasts the highest murder rate in Oklahoma
A not-for-profit organization, Aim High Academy was founded by Jennifer Patterson who spent a decade volunteer teaching gymnastics in the north Tulsa area when she decided that she could influence kids’ lives even more if she had her own club. What started with a couple of panel mats, a low beam and renting space in 2007 has blossomed into a full-fledged gym including its own space and over 250 students.
That is until yesterday when a tornado destroyed that space.
The gymnastics community is a pretty special one. We band together to help each other because we all believe in the power of the great things that this sport does for the children with whom we are fortunate enough to work. USA Gymnastics immediately sent an email to its Business Board of Advisors (of which I am one) urging us to spread the word. And a Go Fund Me page has raised over one half of their goal in just 17 hours to help rebuild this club.
I want to urge each of you to do something to send your good wishes and support to this club and their coaches and students during this time of need. Here are some ideas:
- Give a donation to AIM High’s Go Fund Me page by clicking here. Even just $5 or $10 dollars helps!
- Select AIM High as your charity on your AmazonSmile AmazonSmile is the same as Amazon, but when you shop through your AmazonSmile page .5% of your purchase goes to the charity of your choice.
- Hold a small fundraiser (think donut sale or gently used leotard sale) at your club and donate the proceeds to AIM High.
- Take a collection from your clients and donate to AIM High.
- If you are a member of a faith based community, take this cause to your priest, pastor, rabbi or other faith leader and see if your faith community would like to help.
- Encourage your athletes to send letters and cards to the gymnasts at AIM High to let them know they are thinking of them and encouraging them to stick through this tough time: AIM High Academy, 4728 Charles Page Blvd., Tulsa, OK 74127.
- Share this blog on your social media to encourage others to help rebuild AIM High.
- Please review your own safety precautions so that in the event of an emergency, your athletes walk away uninjured.
Remember the quote by Edmond Hale: I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.”
Please do something and help support kids like 12 year-old AIM High gymnast Jamarie Wilson who when asked about the tornado told ABC World News Tonight, “It was tough, but we are tougher.”
Amen, Jamarie, amen!