A true athlete is defined by more than just wins, losses and crossing finish lines. Gracie Lindaman, an 11-year-old from Iowa, has learned that lesson early in life.
A triathlete for the last four years, Gracie created national headlines when she made a trip to Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston over the summer to give patients her triathlon and track and field medals.
She attached inspirational quotes, like “On a rainy day, enjoy the puddles. Forget the storm,” to dozens of medals and handed them out as a source of hope for children who are currently fighting their own battles. She also collected hardware from others in her community, which brought the medal count up to around 300.
“It was life-changing just seeing how it affected these kids, and being able to help them and give them hope,” she told the Des Moines Register.
The idea was brought up to Gracie by her mother, Kelly, who learned about an organization called We Finish Together, which collects medals from athletes and gifts them to those who are facing challenges in life.
Gracie originally shipped her own 27 medals to the organization in Texas, and then they made their way to the fire department in Spring, Texas so firefighters could hand them out at Memorial Hermann. But, when the firefighters saw where the medals came from, they decided to fly Gracie to Texas, so she could hand them out herself.
She visited dozens of patients and placed medals around their necks.
“They deserve them more than I did,” Gracie told Forbes. “They’re in their own race, and I just wanted them to have a better day.”
Gracie’s visit made a big difference, especially for one girl, who is slow to warm up to others, and “arrived at the hospital struggling with feeling love,” according to Jerry Barca of Forbes.
When that girl received a medal with “You’re loved. Keep Fighting” attached to it, she wore it long after Gracie walked out of Memorial Hermann.
And, that is what winning is all about.