Growing up, my sisters and I loved watching gymnastics. It wasn't because any of us participated beyond cartwheels in the yard - though my younger sister did try the sport in high school - we just loved watching the incredible, seemingly impossible skills. About that time, a TV movie came out chronicling the story of Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci. In 1976, she became the first gymnast to score a perfect "10" at the Olympics. In one of the early scenes, coach Bela Karolyi discovers Nadia and several other kids at a local gym. He kneels to look a young Nadia in the eye and asks, "Do you believe a little girl can fly?" to which the ponytailed child solemnly nods. The story goes on from there - Nadia's triumphs, her ups and downs - but whenever I watch the Olympics, I can't help but think of that one question. It goes beyond gymnastics to encompass any little girl's dreams for her future - yes, little girls can soar to achieve whatever goals they might set. I've had the opportunity to meet Nadia through her work with the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Now married to former American gymnast Bart Conner, they cohost the telethon in Chicago, and Nadia serves as a vice president of the organization. At an MDA emcees briefing in Los Angeles several years ago, the local chapter invited us to a benefit event with a fashion show and silent auction. Among the items were watercolor drawings of Nadia and Bart at the height of their gymnastics success. I commented to my husband how much my sister would like those. We moved down the table a little bit and he said, "You should have bid on them - seeing as how they were standing RIGHT BEHIND YOU WATCHING!" Too funny! Even funnier - a necklace in the silent auction caught Nadia's eye, and later in the evening, we saw her directing Bart to stand guard over the bidding to ensure she'd stay on top - much like I often have my husband do for me when we're at an event! You may learn to fly - but you have to stay grounded, too. Lessons learned from a little girl who soared so many years ago - and reminds us to strive to keep reaching to make a difference.
Picture from www.bartandnadia.com.