Olympic Icon Comes To BA To Fundraise For Tulsa Gymnastics Studio

Thursday, September 29th 2016, 6:41 pm
By: Tess Maune

An 80s icon is in Broken Arrow to help raise money for the Tulsa gymnastic studio that was destroyed by a tornado last year.

Gold-medal Olympian, Mary Lou Retton, is in town for Aim High Academy's 'Gold Medal Night' - the gym's biggest fundraiser.

Retton was a member of the 1984 U.S. Olympic team and the first American woman to win the all-around gold medal at the Olympics.

She's credited with being a pioneer in American women's gymnastics. And 32 years later, she's still inspiring young gymnasts, but, she said the gymnasts and coaches at Aim High have inspired her.

“It a culture of gymnastics, and I have to say that…thank you to the coaches, thank you for all the support team that are a part of that. That’s just what we do. As gymnasts we’re taught to work, the work ethic is so high, you know, forget what happens and the challenges and the adversity, you move on and you push forward. That’s what these girls have done and I’m so proud of them,” Retton said.

Strong, determined and focused are just a few ways to describe a gymnast; and the kids at Aim High have proven to be all of those things and much more over the past 16 months.

Jennifer Patterson founded faith-based Aim High Academy in 2007 with a mission to provide affordable opportunities for north Tulsa children.

Aim High moved into its permanent studio in 2013 but less than two years after cutting the ribbon on the new gym, a tornado tore it apart while about 60 gymnasts took cover in a basement.

They weren't hurt, but Tulsa firefighters still carried the girls to safety to protect their bare feet.

And in the months that followed, the blessings churned faster and bigger than any tornado ever could.

A $1 million donation made it possible for Aim High to buy a bigger and better gym; one where any Olympic-sized dream can come true.

8/10/2016 Related Story: Tulsa Gymnasts Surprised With New Gym After Devastating 2015 Tornado

Aim High is still fundraising, with the hopes of opening satellite campuses in north, east and west Tulsa.

Thursday night, Rustic Cuff owner, Jill Donovan, and Former NFL player, RW McQuarters, will compete in what's called "America's Next Top Gymnast" - both have been practicing their routines so it should be a fun night at the Church at Battle Creek.

Tickets are sold out and about 500 guests are expected to be there.