Simone Biles makes a play for our hearts by recalling her time in foster care.
“I was so young, I didn’t quite understand what was going on,” the 4-foot-8 Olympic gold medalist, born to a mother addicted to drugs and alcohol, and was placed in foster care at the age of 3, recently told People. “But I recall some of the kids coming to the foster home with only the clothes on their back and a backpack.”
The bubbly athlete, along with her younger sister, were later adopted by their maternal grandfather, Ron, and his wife, Nellie. For Biles, her experience is forever imprinted on her — so much so, that it inspired the 19-year-old to partner with Mattress Firm Foster Kids, a nonprofit organization that launched in 2015. The organization has gifted more than 610,000 items, including clothes and school supplies, to foster children in need. According to the donation-driven program’s website, they’re currently affiliated with 115 nonprofit partners across 40 states.
“It was difficult,” said Biles of children arriving with the bare minimum, alone. “It’s hard going into the system with hardly anything, because even though foster parents may receive a stipend, sometimes it’s not enough to cover all the necessities.
“This is such a personal cause for me because I know firsthand what it’s like to be in foster care — struggles and all.”
The gymnast, who walked away with four gold medals and one bronze medal at the Rio Olympics, said she’ll attend as many drives as possible — and she can’t wait to meet the foster kids who will be receiving the items collected by Mattress Firm.
“I came from a foster home and went on to achieve everything I’ve achieved,” said Biles. “I’m just hoping it can inspire other foster kids to never give up and to always pursue your dreams. And to play sports and get good sleep!”
She reiterated the importance of using one’s platform to inspire: “My message is: There are no limits.”
We applaud Biles for returning “home” to pay it forward!