Since I was a young girl I had an idol. After watching the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, Shannon Miller, really struck me as an inspiration. I still remember and have the VHS recording of her gold medal balance beam performance. She was perfect! She, along with her teammates, “The Magnificent Seven,” won team gold for the first time in Olympic history.
So, when the John Hancock Tour of Gymnastics Champions came to town I made sure we went. She was amazing, so graceful and confident on a 4 inch wide beam pretty high off the floor. In her I saw strength. Even though I was never a competitive gymnast, she inspired me as a female. She made me feel like I could do anything. I give her a lot of credit for giving me the “strength” to get through the teenage years which were the hardest of my life for many reasons.
Than my chance came, The Reese’s Gymnastics Cup came to my hometown of St.Petersburg, FL on Saturday January,24 1998. This time it would be different. This time I would get the chance to meet her at an autograph signing at a local Winn-Dixie store. So, my Mom, Dad, cousin, friend, and I all got in line about 20 minutes before they arrived. I will never forget the excitement I felt as they walked in. I had my “Wheaties Box,”Magnificent 7 poster, all the books about Shannon, and her Olympic cards to have her sign, and she smiled and signed them all graciously, even though i’m sure I was only supposed to get one thing signed. She was there with teammate , Amanda Borden, and Olympian ,Kim Zmeskal. I also met her another time in Dillard’s Department store in St. Petersburg.
When I thought about finding an inspirational speaker to speak to our military families I didn’t think twice. Shannon, not only is America’s Most Decorated Gymnast, she is now like me, a mother. But one thing sets her apart. She is also a cancer survivor and women’s health advocate. How many women do you know that hold all those titles? She has accomplished everything with such grace, even her cancer diagnosis. I remember hearing that she had cancer and thinking they must mean a different Shannon Miller. It can’t be my childhood idol. She was an amazing athlete and mother there’s no way she could have cancer. But it was the Shannon Miller I knew, at that point she not only held the title of my childhood idol, but my adulthood inspiration.
I remember when I sent her a message on Twitter asking her to come to the May Baby Shower Event, her marketing manager, Lauren, responded right away! I couldn’t believe it! There was a chance that Shannon would be speaking at my event! The same Shannon I looked up to and respected for so many years! I was like a little kid! Than , not only was Shannon going to volunteer to come and speak, but she was bringing one of the most amazing baby companies out there with her, Baby Plus! I wish I had one when I was pregnant! They are prenatal education systems that you wear around your belly that help the baby sleep at an earlier age, help them be calmer and happier,many things. I remember that Shannon had one with her pregnancies. So, Lauren and everyone else at Shannon Miller Lifestyle thank you for making all this amazingness happen! You all are amazing!
So, when Shannon gets here I cant wait to be able to shake her hand as an adult mother -to-mother. Hopefully I don’t get up there on stage and go off on a rant for too long before I introduce her. It just means the world to me and these families to have you hear to speak and get to meet these amazing military families.