Here in Iowa, where Traditional Home is headquartered, we are psyched for the Summer Olympics on two counts: first of all, the beautiful and bubbly 16-year-old Olympic hopeful Gabrielle (Gabby) Douglas—also known as The Flying Squirrel for her prowess on the uneven bars — is training right here. Secondly, Gabby has an important connection to Linda Davidson, one of our Classic Woman honorees this year. (We give Classic Woman awards annually to five phenomenal women who exemplify the utmost in American volunteerism — you can read all about it in our forthcoming September issue, and find out how to nominate a classic woman in your life.)
Here’s how Linda and Gabby are connected. Linda founded an organization called Our Military Kids after she noticed a gap in services to military families when National Guardsmen and women were deployed overseas. Often their families did not live near military bases (thus making them feel isolated) and often military pay was lower than civilian, causing hardship to families. Sometimes kids’ extracurricular activities had to be cut. Our Military Kids now fills that gap by giving grants to help kids stay focused and positive during their parents’ absence by participating in sports, the fine arts, tutoring programs and more.
Gabby isn’t the only member of her family to fly through the air. Her dad, SSgt Timothy Douglas, has been deployed overseas three times with the Air National Guard. During his deployment, Gabby received a $500 grant to train in Texas at an invitation-only camp with other gymnasts on the U.S. team. “When I got the grant, I was so honored and happy,” Gabby says. “I know I speak for all military kids when I say thank you for making this fund available to help us pursue our dreams.”
Gabby went on from that camp to make the move from her hometown of Virginia Beach to West Des Moines to live with an Iowa family and train with renowned coach Lian Chow, who trained Shawn Johnson for the 2008 Beijing games. Gabby recently placed first in the Olympic Trails and was automatically granted a bid to the London games.
Gabby’s mom, Natalie Hawkins, says the boost from Our Military Kids came at a crucial time. “In the grand scheme of things, $500 might not seem like that much money, but it made the difference between keeping Gabby at home and sending her to a camp that would play a part in molding her into the Olympic gymnast she is today.”
What does our Classic Woman honoree Linda Davidson have to say about all this? Two words: “Go Gabby!”