USA Gymnastics has learned of the recent passing of Diane Ellingson-Smith earlier this month. A Junior Olympic and NCAA champion, Diane was perhaps best-known for her inspiring story of perseverance in battling back from a devastating injury that left her paralyzed. Her story was shared through the biography, “Don’t You Dare Give Up!” An elementary school teacher, she became a motivational speaker and founded and led a sales, motivation, leadership and achievement company.
From 1978-81, Diane competed on the University of Utah’s women’s gymnastics team. She was a three-time All-American on the uneven parallel bars and finished second in the 1981 National Championships. She was co-captain of the 1981 national-title winning team. After competing in college, Diane joined a professional gymnastics tour and was injured during vault practice before her first meet. Although paralyzed from the chest down and confined to a wheelchair, Diane earned her elementary education degree at Utah and taught third grade for seven years. Diane, who carried the Olympic torch on multiple occasions, was married to Scott Smith and had four stepchildren.
Diane Ellingson-Smith inspired many throughout her life, and our thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends at this difficult time.