Aim High Academy is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization
By Chloe Moores Tulsa World
Olympic medalist Laurie Hernandez to speak at Aim High Academy fundraiser
Laurie Hernandez will be the guest of honor at Gold Medal Night, Aim High Academy’s annual fundraiser
United States’ Lauren Hernandez performs on the floor during the women’s gymnastics team final at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. She’ll be in Tulsa to speak at the Aim High Academy fundraiser in October.
CHARLIE RIEDEL/AP file
"Aim High Academy combines FITNESS and FAITH to help build bright FUTURES in urban children and youth from the North Tulsa community and beyond."
Laurie Hernandez, a member of the 2016 USA women’s Olympic gymnastics team, will be the guest of honor at Aim High Academy’s annual fundraiser, Gold Medal Night.
Hernandez made the surprise announcement to the gymnasts and parents at Aim High over Skype, according to a news release.
Hernandez is a two-time Olympic medalist, taking the gold medal for the team event and silver for her performance on balance beam at the 2016 Rio summer games. She also became the youngest competitor to win the TV reality competition “Dancing with the Stars” at age 16.
Jennifer Patterson, Aim High’s founding executive director, sent a letter to one of her contacts at USA gymnastics in late January or early February requesting Hernandez attend the organization’s Gold Medal Night, she said.
“We didn’t hear anything for a couple of months, so I didn’t think it was going to work out and then about two weeks ago, I got an email from my contact at USA gymnastics, and she simply said, ‘Laurie’s in,’ ” Patterson said.
When Patterson heard the news, she “started running up and down the halls screaming,” she said.
For the past few weeks, Patterson has held in the news of the Olympian’s visit, only telling a few members on her staff. She is confident Aim High’s gymnasts and their families “are going to freak out today,” she said.
In the past, Olympians such as Carly Patterson, Mary Lou Retton and Betty Okino have graced Aim High’s Gold Medal Night. The women have “been great at delivering motivating messages to young gymnasts, telling them to stick with it and pursue their dreams,” Patterson said.
The Olympians almost always inspire the young gymnasts.
“Our gymnasts have been so blessed to meet so many of their idols, so many of their role models,” Patterson said.
“I still hear girls saying things about Betty — about how kind Betty was when she was in the gym working with them. She came in and she was giving them tips and really loving on them and they still talk about that, it does mean a lot to them.”
This year marks Aim High’s 10th annual Gold Medal Night, a huge milestone for the organization, Patterson said.
Since Aim High’s gym was destroyed two years ago by a tornado, the organization has been able to serve more than 700 students weekly — with 250 of those students on scholarship — while maintaining two locations, Patterson said.
“Ten years later, having gone through all of that, and to be where we are — to have someone like Laurie Hernandez and Mary Lou Retton and Carly Patterson care about what we’re doing and think it is important enough for them to visit and support it, is amazing and a true miracle,” Patterson said.
Gold Medal Night will take place Oct. 5 at the Church at BattleCreek, 3025 N. Aspen Ave. in Broken Arrow. The organization hopes to raise $140,000 through sponsorships, reservations, and live and silent auctions. Information regarding sponsors for Gold Medal Night will be available Wednesday on Aim High’s website, aimhighgym.com. Reservations for the event will begin in August, and the organizers anticipate the event will sell out, Patterson said.
Aim High is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that works to “combine fitness and faith to help build bright futures in urban children and youth from the north Tulsa community,” according to its mission statement.
Aim High Main Campus • 7020 E 38th St • Tulsa, OK 74145 • 918 664-8683
Aim High North Tulsa Campus • 3740 E Admiral Pl, Tulsa, OK 74115 • 918 794-4774