Interviews with top 2009 National Gymnastics Day fundraisers
posted on 02/05/2010

Once again, gymnastics clubs across the country put forth their best efforts and raised nearly $150,000 for the Children’s Miracle Network.

Since USA Gymnastics first partnered with Children’s Miracle Network in 2001, the gymnastics community has donated more than $1 million to the cause. Gym clubs and their members raised money as part of their celebrations for National Gymnastics Day through the Tyson Fitness Challenge. The Tyson Fitness Challenge is a joint initiative of USA Gymnastics and Tyson Foods that helps today’s kids get more physically fit through fun activities and raises money to help kids who are fighting illness at Children’s Miracle Network hospitals around the country.

“Young kids make an incredible difference when they work for those who really need it,” said Steve Penny, president of USA Gymnastics. “The Children’s Miracle Network helps save the lives of kids every day, and USA Gymnastics appreciates everything the gymnastics community does with the Tyson Fitness Challenge and National Gymnastics Day to benefit such a worthwhile cause.”

The 2009 Tyson Fitness Challenge and National Gymnastics Day served as catalysts for the fund-raising efforts of the top club and individuals for the Children’s Miracle Network. Gymnastics World of Broadview Heights, Ohio, once again led the way, raising a total of $28,936.26, with the individual winner, Abby Villenauve, producing $7,250 of that total. Gymnastics World has been the top fundraising club for the last three years. The top three clubs and individual participants receive prizes from AAI, Tyson and USA Gymnastics.

Top Individuals
1 - Abby Villenauve
2 - Mary Kate Cacchione
3 - Emma Timblin
Top Clubs
1 - Gymnastics World
2 - Northern Elite Gymnastics & Cheer
3 - John & John's Flip Fest

1st Place Individual
Abby Villenauve - Gymnastics World - Broadview, Ohio
Raised $7,250

USA Gymnastics: Why did you decide to help raise money for the Children’s Miracle Network?
Abby: Because 100% of the money I raised goes to my local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital.

USA Gymnastics: Was this your first time participating in the fundraiser?
Abby: No, this was my second year.

USA Gymnastics: How did you encourage your teammates to take part in the fundraiser?
Abby: Mr. Ganim, our gym owner, printed off my flyer and displayed it at the gym.

USA Gymnastics: Who did you ask for donations?
Abby: I asked friends, family and business associates of my Dad. My Dad set up my web page and sent the link out to friends, family and business associates.

USA Gymnastics: What is your favorite memory from this year’s fundraiser?
Abby: Getting a $500 donation from one of my Dad’s friends and beating my original goal.

USA Gymnastics: What advice can you offer to athletes who are planning to participate next year?
Abby: Sell raffle tickets like I did. I raffled off an I-Touch, Bose headphones and a $50 gift card (donated).


1st Place Club
Gymnastics World- Broadview Heights, Ohio
Raised $28,936.26, taking its seven-year total to $151,887.26

Club Owners - Joan and Ron Ganim

USA Gymnastics: Why did you decide to help raise money for the Children’s Miracle Network?
Ron Ganim: It has always been our belief that we are teachers first and coaches second. Part of being a teacher involves looking at the total child, not just the athletic side. This responsibility as a teacher invokes the need to find ways that help parents and community raise the child to be a good person. And, being a good person, in part, means helping others. CMN gave us the opportunity to teach the kids that when everyone does a little, we can make the world a better place to live.

USA Gymnastics: Does your club take part in any other charitable fundraisers?
Ron Ganim: Yes, through our local cities, we sponsor up to three needy families every Christmas season. After receiving each family’s “Wish List,” the kids that wish to participate pick a gift tag off of the paper tree in our lobby, purchase, wrap and return the gift to us. Last year alone, our kids purchased more than 120 gifts, bringing the spirit of Christmas to six adults and 11 children. The beautiful part of this is that all gifts, as well as the receiving families, are anonymous. We do not know who they are; they do not know it was the Gym and Cheer World kids that bought the gifts.

USA Gymnastics: What is your favorite memory from this year’s fundraiser?
Ron Ganim: We love the ingenuity of some of the girls! A few had lemonade stands in their neighborhoods. Our high school girls placed canisters in a few local restaurants and raised $190.00, but the best was Abby Villenauve, who conducted a raffle for various prizes, including I-Touch and I-Pods. $10 gave you one chance to win, $20 gave you three chances.... etc. In all, Abby Raised $7,250!

USA Gymnastics: How did you encourage your students to participate in the fundraiser this year?
Ron Ganim: Quite simply whenever the timing is right, we talk to the kids about being a good person and how their participation in the CMN effort will help their journey. We speak of an obligation to help others; opportunity to grow; and how selfless acts help us feel good about ourselves.

USA Gymnastics: How would you encourage other clubs to participate in fundraising for the Children’s Miracle Network next year?
Ron Ganim: If a coach is only a coach, they will not participate so it really doesn’t matter what we say here. However, for those who believe that teaching the child is more important than coaching the gymnast in them, they will find a way to take the time, exert the effort, and reap the benefits of having a gym full of great kids, thereby making the coaching efforts more enjoyable and more productive. The amount of money raised is secondary to the concept of giving children the opportunity to become a contributing member of society.


2nd Place Individual
Mary Kate Cacchione - Northern Elite Gymnastics and Cheer – Flanders, N.J.
Raised $6,050

USA Gymnastics: Why did you decide to help raise money for the Children’s Miracle Network?
Mary Kate: I had an awesome experience last year and felt very rewarded knowing how much I could help others through gymnastics. We did a performance at the children’s specialized hospital where we met the kids we were fundraising for and this made the experience very personal. I did it again this year because I believe we made a big impact last year and we could do even more this year.

USA Gymnastics: How did you encourage your teammates to take part in the fundraiser?
Mary Kate: I explained to my teammates how much I felt we could help the hospitals and the sick kids. Also at our gym we had a video from The Children’s Miracle Network playing in our lobby about the hospitals and the kids who would benefit from our efforts. We all watched it a bunch of times.

USA Gymnastics: Who did you ask for donations?
Mary Kate: I asked my family, friends, and people my parents work with.

USA Gymnastics: What is your favorite memory from this year’s fundraiser?
Mary Kate: We presented a benefit show called “Miracles.” We charged $10 admission and all of the money went to CMN. Our team separated into groups and each group choreographed their own routine. We got to choose the music and create something really cool. We presented the routines to an audience of our family and friends. We practiced tons of hours and had a really fun time. We were all exhausted when it was finished but as a team we collected $4,000 on that day alone. It was AWESOME. Everyone in the gym felt great about it.

USA Gymnastics: What advice can you offer athletes planning to participate next year?
Mary Kate: Ask everyone you can think of to help. Call, email, knock on doors. Put something together like a bake sale or a show! Doing an event really brings your team together and it’s a great way to raise money. Have fun!


2nd Place Club
Northern Elite Gymnastics & Cheer – Flanders, N.J.
Raised $21,065.49

Club Owner- Noreen Cacchione

USA Gymnastics: Why did you decide to help raise money for the Children’s Miracle Network?
Noreen Cacchione: Last year we were invited by CMN to participate in an event at the Children’s Specialized Hospital to kick off the Tyson Fitness Challenge. We were a new gym and our team kids love to do exhibitions so we went with the idea that they could use their skills to help out. Everyone we met at this event had a giving heart and a positive attitude, including the patients. It felt great to be a part of something so special. Our gymnasts left that hospital determined to make a change. And their success just makes us all want to do more! We are just getting started.

USA Gymnastics: Does your club take part in any other charitable fundraisers?
Noreen Cacchione: Yes, we do as much as we can, but Children’s Miracle Network is our favorite!

USA Gymnastics: What is your favorite memory from this year’s fundraiser?
Noreen Cacchione: The energy that filled the gym as every child gave their all in preparation for our show “Miracles.” The generous spirit throughout the gym was contagious! Every person involved will instantly smile when you ask them about Northern Elite’s “Miracles.” It was a HUGE feel-good memory!

USA Gymnastics: How did you encourage your students to participate in the fundraiser this year?
Noreen Cacchione: All I did was encourage the opportunity. The kids, the coaches and their families ran with it. They had teams and captains and they all encouraged each other.

USA Gymnastics: How would you encourage other clubs to participate in fundraising for the Children’s Miracle Network next year?
Noreen Cacchione: I would suggest that you encourage your athletes to visit a CMN hospital and meet the children they are working for. I don’t think there is any more powerful way to appreciate how their efforts can impact their own peers within their own community. Kids helping kids...it’s a beautiful thing.


3rd Place Individual
Emma Timblin - Northern Elite Gymnastics and Cheer – Flanders, N.J.
Raised $4,840

USA Gymnastics: Why did you decide to help raise money for the Children’s Miracle Network?
Emma: Last year was very rewarding raising money to help those in need and it was something I definitely wanted to do again. It’s important to help those less fortunate.

USA Gymnastics: How did you encourage your teammates to take part in the fundraiser?
Emma: I helped some of my teammates build their fundraising page and kept asking them how much they raised and made suggestions to them. We also talked about how they really wanted to help support Children’s Miracle Network.

USA Gymnastics: Who did you ask for donations?
Emma: Friends and family members; people that supported me last year; and others who wanted to help the children.

USA Gymnastics: What is your favorite memory from this year’s fundraiser?
Emma: Seeing how much I accomplished and how many people I helped.

USA Gymnastics: What advice can you offer to athletes who are planning on participating next year?
Emma: Just keep thinking positively and you can do it!


3rd Place Club
John Macready’s and John Roethlisberger’s Flip Fest- Lake Francis, Tenn.
Raised $14,318.75

Club Owners- John Macready and John Roethlisberger

USA Gymnastics: Why did you decide to help raise money for the Children’s Miracle Network?
John Macready: We always want to “give back” and the CMN is a wonderful cause.

USA Gymnastics: Does your club take part in any other charitable fundraisers?
John Macready: No, as of now, we focus all fundraising efforts on the CMN.

USA Gymnastics: What is your favorite memory from this year’s fundraiser?
John Macready: Our campers compete each week to “beat” the previous week’s campers in the funds they raise. To see the faces on the campers when they realize they raised more money than a previous week is pretty awesome.

USA Gymnastics: How did you encourage your students to participate in the fundraiser this year?
John Macready: We explain to them that they are fortunate enough to be able to go to summer camp and have a blast, and many others would have loved to have been in their position. By giving back to CMN, they are able to help those kids that aren’t able to be out attending something fun like summer camp.

USA Gymnastics: How would you encourage other clubs to participate in fundraising for the Children’s Miracle Network next year?
John Macready: The mere rewarding feeling of knowing you have personally been able to help out kids in need is enough motivation for us!