Tulsa Gymnasts Receive Donation, Reunite With Hero Firefighters

Tuesday, June 23rd 2015, 8:37 pm

Firefighters carried little, barefoot gymnasts out of Aim High Academy in March; they had just survived a tornado that destroyed the west Tulsa gymnastic studio.

Tuesday those gymnasts reunited with their rescuers and the gym also got a donation to help catapult its future.

Since the storm, Aim High Academy has into a temporary space. Founder, Jennifer Patterson says it's a blessing because it's being donated, but it's still 15,000 square feet smaller than the old gym - meaning some of the athletes have to practice at an Owasso gym.

6/5/2015 Related Story: Gymnastics Program Affected By Tulsa Tornado Needs Help Moving

Patterson hopes the find a permanent north Tulsa location, one that can accommodate the nearly 300 gymnasts who come here to make their dreams come true.

Tuesday there were 10,000 reasons for the Aim High community to be clapping, or stomping or just smiling.

“State Farm blessed us with a $10,000 grant to aid in our recovery efforts from the tornado,” said Patterson.

The tornado destroyed their gym, all while 60 little gymnasts were inside Aim High Academy - a non-profit created to combine flipping with faith for children in the north Tulsa community.

3/25/2015 Related Story: Tornado Destroys Sand Springs Gymnastics Studio

When the sirens sounded that night, Patterson didn't miss a beat in getting the athletes to a safe place.

“I heard His voice. His voice said to go, and so we took the kids down to the basement immediately. So I'm thankful to Him for that,” she said.

And thankful is how she's been ever since; not just for big checks, but that not one person at the gym was hurt.

Then, of course, there are the Tulsa Firefighters who, on the night of the storm, made a big impact with a small gesture.

“I just told the guys over the radio, I said, 'Let's do the best job we can of getting these kids reunited with their parents,'” said District Chief Lee Horst.

They did just that, by carrying each little girl - all still barefoot and in leotards - to safety.

On Tuesday, the girls reunited with their heroes for the first time - again barefoot and dressed for gymnastics.

“Just to see them happy, smiling, high-fiving us, giving us hugs, we know they're gonna be ok,” Horst said.

They're going to be better than ok because when it comes to gymnastics, Patterson will settle for nothing but the best.

“Ya know, I feel like God is at work here,” she said. “We want to give these kids a permanent home in north Tulsa that they can be proud of, that they can pursue their dreams in and where we can be a light to the community.”

More than $50,000 was donated right after the tornado and Aim High Academy is still raising money to help with a permanent home, and every little bit helps.

If you'd like to donate you can find more information on the Aim High website.