West Tulsa Gymnastics School Owner Hailed As Hero As Storm Hits

Thursday, March 26th 2015, 12:40 pm
By: News On 6

The owner of a west Tulsa gymnastics school is being called a hero after she made the quick decision to evacuate her young gymnasts when the tornado sirens blared Wednesday evening. 

Jennifer Patterson didn't hesitate to get her girls to safety. 

The wind knocked down the roof, but everyone inside had made it to the basement at the Aim High Academy on Charles Page Boulevard and rode out the storm.

Sixty gymnasts getting ready for a weekend competition would've been trapped underneath the rubble if it weren't for Patterson's quick thinking.

"I know that when I heard the sirens, I've heard sirens before, sometimes I've taken my time, sometimes I've waited to see. This time it was like, 'we're going right now,' I was like, 'let's move,'" Patterson said.

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

Just before the storm slammed into the building, the gymnasts took cover in the basement.  Thirty Tulsa firefighters responded, preparing for a rescue. 

"It went very smooth compared to what it could've been," firefighter Evan Baker said. 

They carried all 60 of the girls, one by one, out of the basement. None of them had a scratch.

"They didn't have any shoes on, we didn't want them stepping on broken glass or anything like that and that way we knew they made it to the car safely and they could go home," Baker said.

Gymnast Jamarie Wilson was among those rescued.

"I'm just so glad that everybody got down there and everybody made it out safe," she said.

But her mother was worried.

"You can imagine I was a nervous wreck not being here with Jamarie," Judi Wilson said. "To see her getting carried out, I was so emotional because she was in shock."

Wilson is grateful Patterson moved the kids to shelter. 

"I'm glad she said, 'let's go,' because this could've been fatal," Wilson said.. 

"We need to be thankful; we need to be joyful and just have faith in that," Patterson said.

Added Jamarie Wilson: "God truly made us special."

The Aim High Academy and its 274 gymnasts are working on a temporary place to practice because they just started competition. A donation page on GoFundMe is already up for the non-profit/faith based program.