INDIANAPOLIS – Kate Foster of Rockford, Ill., is the recipient of the 2016 USA Gymnastics Robert Miller Spirit of the Flame Award. She will receive the award on July 9 in San Jose, Calif., during the the 2016 USA Gymnastics Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, held in conjunction with the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials – Women’s Gymnastics and the USA Gymnastics National Congress and Trade Show.
“Kate has shown an incredible ability to fight at a time when many others would have given up,” said David Durante, chairman of the USA Gymnastics Athletes Council. “Her continued determination and love for gymnastics are an inspiration for our entire community. Kate is a fantastic representative of what the Robert Miller Spirit of the Flame Award is all about, and we are proud to name her this year’s recipient of the award.”
A gymnast, Foster was just 12 years old when she was diagnosed with leukemia. During her battle with cancer, an infection forced doctors to amputate her left leg above the knee.
Lori Aamodt, Kate’s coach and owner of Gymnastic Academy of Rockford, recalls the difficult time. “As leukemia ravaged her body, her spirit fought back, and she refused to surrender to her tenacious enemy,” she said. “She never balked at the challenge but attacked her opponent with the same determination she attacks gymnastics.”
Always known for her strong work ethic and devotion to the sport, Foster overcame her illness and returned to the gym with a positive attitude and a fierce determination to succeed. Each day she entered the gym and faced her struggles, adamantly declaring, “I’ve got this.” Despite the challenge, Foster taught herself how to pursue her gymnastics dreams with a prosthetic limb.
Foster’s perseverance has paid off. The now 16-year-old gymnast wears a prosthetic leg while she continues to train and compete around the country. An inspiration to competitors and teammates. Foster performs the same routines and follows the same rules as the gymnasts with two legs.
“I do not see a gymnast with a prosthetic leg. I see an athlete with the heart of a champion,” said Aamodt.
Founded in 1987, the Robert Miller Spirit of the Flame Award recognizes athletes and individuals in the gymnastics world who demonstrate leadership, strength and determination in an extraordinary way. In 2011, the award was renamed after fellow gymnast and Staff Sargent Robert Miller who received the Medal of Honor after saving the lives of fellow soldiers while serving in the war in Afghanistan. For more information on the award, please visit usagymlegacy.org.