Aim High Academy is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization
We wish to thank everyone who helped make our 2016 Gold Medal Night such a success!
Thank you to our sponsors, all of the restaurants who donated food for a fabulous dinner and everyone who attended. You all helped make Gold Medal Night a great success.
At the end of the night, we were very blessed by Rustic Cuff, who presented our Executive Director with a check for $50,000 raised through a special promotion for Gold Medal Night. Thank you, Jill Donovan, for investing in the lives of our athletes!
Mary Lou with $1 million donor, Tom Naugle
Mary Lou with an Aim High gymnast
OUR GOLD MEDAL NIGHT SPONSORS
Olympic Torch Sponsor - Rustic Cuff
Olympic Rings Sponsor - Realis Management
Gold Medal Sponsors:
Evelyn Rayzor Nienhuis
Steven L. Wilson & Associates Certified Public Accountants
Mary Lou Retton's story inspires Aim High Academy students
John Klein: Tulsa World
"Aim High Academy combines FITNESS and FAITH to help build bright FUTURES in urban children and youth from the North Tulsa community and beyond."
BROKEN ARROW — Mary Lou Retton, one of America’s Olympic icons, says gymnastics teaches more than balance and grace.
It teaches life lessons.
“My whole life I was told you can’t do that, you can’t win the Olympics,” Retton said. “My message is that you can overcome anything.
“It’s about working hard. It’s about perseverance.”
Retton, who burst onto the scene by winning the 1984 Olympic all-around gymnastics title, brought her message of resilience, persistence and courage to Aim High Academy’s Gold Medal Gala on Thursday night at the Church at BattleCreek.
She was the keynote speaker and then judged a celebrity gymnastics competition.
Three local celebrities — former NFL player R.W. McQuarters, former University of Tulsa football coach Dave Rader and Rustic Cuff CEO Jill Donovan — performed gymnastics routines.
The event is a major fundraiser for Aim High Academy.
“My message is everyone can do extraordinary things,” Retton said. “Because I was not extraordinary.
“It’s about embracing the underdog role.
“It’s about the loss, but also to gain it again.”
Those are lessons that have served Aim High Academy well in the wake of a tornado that destroyed its facility in west Tulsa in March 2015.
Firefighters had to remove debris to help about 50 young gymnasts escape from the basement at the damaged facility, where they had sheltered during the storm.
Aim High, a nonprofit program that seeks to make the sport accessible to children regardless of family income, has been operating out of temporary facilities.
But thanks to a $1 million donation, Aim High has purchased the Tulsa World of Gymnastics facility for its new training gym. Located at 7020 E. 38th St., it will be known as Aim High Academy at Tulsa World of Gymnastics.
Retton said she has been inspired by Aim High’s story of resilience in the face of huge challenges.
“I’m here to do what I can for Aim High,” she said. “It’s a story of just keep going. It’s about building back up.
“I think it’s an example of the culture of gymnastics. It inspires other people.”
At the ‘84 Olympics, Retton became the first female American gymnast to win a gold medal. In addition to gold in the individual all-around, she also won two silver and two bronze medals.
“I’ve been so blessed by God in my life,” Retton said. “This is my story and message to these young girls.
“I think it’s important for me to give them my message and motivation.”
Retton became a hugely popular star after the Olympics. She was the first female athlete to be pictured on the front of a Wheaties box and the youngest person to be inducted into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame.
Jennifer Patterson, founder and director of Aim High Academy, said Retton has served as an inspiration in the world of American gymnastics.
“When I was growing up, Mary Lou Retton was the person we looked up to,” she said. “When things were tough, Mary Lou Retton was the person we would pretend to be.
“The message was to not give up. No one gave the U.S. much chance in women’s gymnastics until she came along. Then, all of the sudden, she took the stage and changed everything.
“Those are wonderful lessons for all of us.”
Olympic gold medalist Mary Lou Retton speaks during Aim High Academy’s Gold Medal Gala at the Church at BattleCreek in Broken Arrow on Thursday evening. JOEY JOHNSON/For the Tulsa World
Rustic Cuff owner Jill Donovan performs her routine during the Aim High Academy’s Gold Medal Night featuring Mary Lou Retton at the Church of Battle Creek in Broken Arrow on September 29, 2016. JOEY JOHNSON/For the Tulsa World
Rustic Cuff owner Jill Donovan performs a flip during her routine at Aim High Academy’s Gold Medal Gala. JOEY JOHNSON/ for the Tulsa World
R.W. McQuarters performs his gymnastics routine during Aim High Academy’s Gold Medal Gala at the Church at BattleCreek in Broken Arrow on Thursday evening. JOEY JOHNSON/For the Tulsa World
Aim High Main Campus • 7020 E 38th St • Tulsa, OK 74145 • 918 664-8683
Aim High North Tulsa Campus • 5400 Charles Page Blvd, Tulsa, OK 74127 • 918 794-4774