Kalon Ludvigson, who was injured last fall during a training session, has returned to Pocatello, Idaho, to continue building his strength and mobility. He also was elected as the trampoline and tumbling representative to the USA Gymnastics Athletes Council. Ludvigson currently is gearing up to attend The Kalon Ludvigson Invitational, scheduled for March 14-15 at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, which features hundreds of athletes including many of the country's and the world's best athletes in trampoline and tumbling.
"This year's Kalon Ludvigson Invitational will truly be a celebration and tribute to his amazing tumbling career," said Susan Jacobson, who heads up USA Gymnastics' trampoline and tumbling program. "We hope that clubs from around the United States and our international community will come to Salt Lake for this event. It has been six months since Kalon's injury, and he continues to improve with the heart and dedication of the champion he is. However, Kalon needs both financial and emotional support for his path to recovery, and this meet will provide both."
After finishing up his outpatient program at Craig Hospital in Denver last December, Ludvigson took two trips to see and spend time with members of the trampoline and tumbling community. First, he flew to the USA Gymnastics National Team Training Center at the Karolyi Ranch, an official U.S. Olympic Training Site, for the USA Gymnastics Olympic Development Program's International Exchange Camp and then to the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., for the U.S. Trampoline and Tumbling National Team's wellness camp.
"I was really excited to be out in the 'real world' and traveling to the Ranch was a lot easier that I had thought it would be," said Ludvigson. "It was really great to watch the athletes training and see them working towards their goals, just like I did and am still doing.
"Being in Colorado Springs and seeing my former national teammates was exciting too," said Ludvigson, "especially now that I am an athlete representative. It's such an honor to be elected, and I look forward to using my experience from many years of training, traveling and competing to help the current and aspiring athletes."
Once back in Pocatello, Ludvigson began adjusting to life outside the hospital, as well as celebrating the holidays with friends and teammates. Ludvigson lives with his coach and partner Justen Millerbernd.
"I was able to spend Christmas with Justen and my close friends, and it felt really good to be home and see my dogs," said Ludvigson. "The night I flew home, my Team Revolution teammates met me at the airport. Seeing them there, crying and happy that I was home, gave me a lot of hope for the future."
Their current living space is not wheelchair friendly, and traveling in their current vehicle is difficult so Ludvigson has been able to visit the gym once.
"Well right now, I stay in the guest room," said Ludvigson. "It has access to the ground floor level, and the floors are tiled down there. We are exploring our options, but that will take some time. It is difficult for me to transfer in and out of our current vehicle, so for now I stay at home and work on some independent therapy."
Ludvigson has begun to feel more sensation throughout his body. The feeling of touch came back slowly before he left Craig Hospital, and now he can feel temperature, most notably in his feet. He still has no movement from the chest down, but continues working on building his strength and mobility. Ludvigson is working hard to be ready for his invitational in the middle of March.
"I'm working so hard to show people what I can do," he said. "Hopefully, they will be impressed!"
For more information on the Kalon Ludvigson Invitational, go to www.kaloninvite.com.
In addition to friends and teammates in the trampoline and tumbling community, his support system encompasses artistic gymnastics friends, including Daniela Silivas, Missy Marlowe, Svetlana Bogiunskaya, Dominique Moceanu, Elise Ray, Courtney Kupets, Chellsie Memmel and Nastia Liukin, have been very supportive during his recovery.
"The thoughts, prayers and well-wishes from friends, family, teammates and people from around the world have been incredible," said Ludvigson. "Words cannot really express my appreciation and gratitude for the support I have gotten and continue to receive on my new journey. It means more than you know."
A fund has been started to assist Ludvigson in covering medical and rehabilitation costs, please go to www.gofundme.com/kalonludvigson for more information. Also, messages of love and support may be posted on his Facebook page, www.facebook.com/kalonludvigsonathlete.