Gymnasts rally around paralyzed teen to raise money for special therapy machine

Posted at 2:01 PM, Sep 26, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-26 16:01:30-04

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    OLATHE, Kan. (WDAF) — They’re supposed to be against one another, on the mat at least.

But gymnasts in the Olathe School District are wrapping their arms around one of their own, even four years after a traumatic accident.

Anna Sarol isn’t wearing a leotard these days, but make no mistake: She’s a gymnast through and through.

“Anna is the most inspirational person I’ve ever met in my entire life,” coach Mallory West said.

West has learned more from the Olathe Northwest senior than she could ever teach.

“You never, ever, ever hear her complain, ever talk about having a rough time. It’s always how can I look for the joy in the situation,” West said.

Anna was a freshman when she fell from the high beams at practice four years ago.

“She right now does not have any feeling in her legs. From the belly button down, she’s paralyzed,” West said.

“Anna hasn`t shown me that depression,” said Loicee Sarol, her mother. “She`s actually more motivated. She actually told me that this accident made her humble, made her feel like you need to enjoy each day.”

And these days, Anna’s watching, coaching other girls and writing routines.

“She could resent the sport, and instead, it’s made her find even more passion,” West said.

It’s hard, but not being part of the sport she loves would be worse.

“I would just hate that the sport that`s been a part of my life for my entire life basically, to just be cut away from that — that would be more of a dramatic change than my injury itself,” Anna said.

It’s why not only her teammates but her competitors across the district worked together to help her get an exoskeleton.

“This machine, she can put it on and essentially walk,” West said. “So it would be something like she could walk from the bedroom to the kitchen.”

Anna has used one in physical therapy, and it’s helping. But she’s more than $80,000 away from owning one.

“If she has that exoskeleton, that will be able to help her move around, even just short distances,” her mother said.

Girls from all five Olathe high schools and parents, too, sold $1 chocolate bars, nearly 3,000 of them.

“Yes we were able to raise a lot of money through that, but we were able to talk about Anna and talk about how much we love her, we care about her, how she`s an inspiration to us all,” West said.

“I am hopeful. I know that we’re not financially there, but I do believe in miracles and, yeah absolutely, I believe in prayers and everything I can get,” Anna said.

But no matter what, she’ll always be a gymnast.

“It`s in her blood. It`s in her heart. It`s in her soul. It`s who she is,” West said.

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