Article and Video: Paralyzed Gymnast Personally Overwhelmed By Support
This article is a feed from the Team Avery page of River City Gymnastics in Bartlett, Tennessee
THE TEAM AVERY STORY
If you know Avery Downing then you know what a truly amazing, gifted and joyful light this child is. If you don’t, then let me share with you Avery’s story.
At just 4 years of age Avery joined the gymnastics world and has never looked back. She is now at the tender age of just 13 and a level 9 gymnast.
Tragically on January 10, 2012 the gymnastics that she loved so much came to a screeching halt. In a routine bar exercise during practice something went terribly wrong. Just 2 days before this accident, Avery and her team mates had begun their competitive season. She performed this same bar routine and won 1st overall.
But on January 10, life would change.
Knowing Avery as I do and watching her grow, I have always been completely amazed at what a light she has been. She has already overcome more challenging situations than most. I remember when she broke her arm the day before Flip Fest gymnastics camp. Not only did she demand to go, but she won camper of the week out of about 200 other athletes . Oh yea, Have I mentioned she is a light.
When Avery lost all of her hair to Alopecia Universalis, she never got down nor did she feel sorry for herself. She accepted it and was always filled with joy, making everyone around her happy. She even wore a purple wig to one of her competitions. Since that time, through many, many prayers, Avery received a miracle and has regained all of her beautiful blond hair.
Avery is a fighter, lover of life and people. She is always taking the time to care for others and their feelings. Avery has always been especially loving to the the little ones in the gym. One of our younger competitors named their American girl doll after Avery.
The morning before Avery’s surgery she looked up at me with her angel eyes And said ” coach Gus, I’m just glad it’s not worse, I am still here, and I know God has a plan” She continues to take care of her visitors, making sure her teammates and all the little ones are not scared of what’s going on with all the hospital equipment. She has always filled everyone around her with her amazing spirit. Right now Avery is in good spirits, But she has an extremely long road ahead of her. Avery and her family will be traveling to Atlanta,where she will be undergoing extensive rehab for several months.
Let me leave you with this:
On the way to the hospital, in the middle of the most frightening time of her life, she was able to tell the EMT about her team Bible verse of the year. Phillipians 1:28, Stand United, singular in vision…… It was written on her arm.
Now it is our time to stand for her, be singular in our vision to help and encourage her with everything we have.
Hi, my name is Amy and I have coached Avery for almost ten years. We have always had a very special relationship, probably in part because I’ve coached her for so long, and partly because we share the same crazy, twisted sense of humor. For those of you who don’t know her or those that have only met her in passing, I would like to share a few stories and facts about her to give you all a better glimpse of how sweet, hilarious, strong, courageous, Godly, and AMAZING she actually is.
When I first met Avery she was about four or five years old and she was on a developmental team called the ducks. She introduced herself as “Sweet pea”, one of several nicknames she would get over the years along with “Little A”, “Murr”, and “Voldemort”…long story. Avery has always been a little bit of a free spirit and would randomly bust out back handsprings. Once she did one on top of me and I caught her mid-air “matrix style”. I wanted to be mad, but it was so funny, that I totally cracked up instead. All of us still laugh about it. Another time we were at the Flipfest Adventure Camp and she got homesick in the cabin before bed, because she missed her mom. She has always been a huge momma’s girl. She slept with me the whole night on my tiny bed. We were both inside my sleeping bag!
When Avery went through a time when she lost every single hair on her head, she was so strong and had such an amazing spirit about the whole thing. At times I know it made her upset, but the rest of the time the girls were rubbing her bald head for good luck, or she would push her nose down and say, “I’m Voldemort”….for all of you Harry Potter fans. One year for state meet, I bought her a purple wig to rock during march-in and between rotations, and I won’t hardly mention how she wanted me to go along with a little lie about her middle name being “Michelle”, and not Spencer.
One last thing I want to talk about is this kid’s relationship with God. In the last few years I have seen her faith explode. She has such a gentle Christ-like rapport with her teammates and all the girls at the gym. She even had a bible verse written on her arm the night of her accident, and the next day before surgery she said “I know God has a plan”.
Right now my heart is broken for Avery, but strangely enough when I think of her my spirit is calmed because I can hear her words and know that we both love and serve the same mighty God that loves us, comforts us, and gives us peace that passes all understanding. This little girl has always been like my own baby, and I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt that God isn’t even close to being done with her, in fact, this is only the beginning. I hope that some of this has helped you all get to know and love this precious little girl even more than you did before. Please keep her always in your prayers.
How You Can Help
Ways to Support the TEAM AVERY effort!
Mail donations to:
7995 Stage Hills Blvd.
Bartlett, TN 38133
You may also go to any local Regions Bank and donate to the Team Avery account. There are Regions banks in these 16 states:
Find a Regions Bank in your area
Purchase TEAM AVERY merchandise (t-shirts, bracelets, tattoos) at River City Gymnastics, any participating local business or online.
Ways Gyms and Other Businesses Can Support the TEAM AVERY effort!
Start Your Own Team Avery Fund and have all your gymnasts order Team Avery T-shirts, bracelets and tattoos. You can find Instructions at:
Prayers and Healing Thoughts are Always Appreciated
Go to the “Pray for Avery Downing” Facebook Page and Like the page so Avery will know how many of us in the gymnastics community care.
Join the “Avery Downing” Facebook Group
Show your support by joining the “Avery Downing” Facebook Group
I am sure Avery would love to hear from some of the “name” gymnasts in our sport, so send her a note on her Facebook page.