Riley was born weighing 1lb, 10 oz and was 13" long. The doctors gave us some hope for her survival but still gave us some grim statistics regarding her health. We knew there was a good chance that she could suffer other complications.
When she was 4 years old, we ran into one of her neonatologists at the NICU reunion. We told him that we wanted to get her into organized sports. We knew by that point that her lungs were strong enough to withstand being around other kids and their germs. Not only did she need some social interaction, we were looking for something that would be therapeutic for her. He suggested that we get her into gymnastics.
We took it slowly for the first 3 years and put her in some basic tumbling. Then last year, we took her to The Gymnastics Company in Indianapolis, and she qualified for their level 2 team.
Eight years ago, we lived the nightmare of knowing there was a chance that she would never leave the hospital alive. Children with physical disabilities would benefit from the exercise and training, even more importantly, the entire family would benefit from the self-esteem and satisfaction that comes with achievements through gymnastics.
Pictured: Riley with Bridget Sloan at the Riley Children’s Hospital NICU Family Reunion, Sept.11, 2010