She grew up a foster child who overcame abuse and neglect and became one of America’s greatest Olympic Champions.
20-year-old Simone Biles soared into the history books during the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where she eared three gold medals and one bronze medal in women’s gymnastics.
Recently, Biles courageously shared she was one among dozens of victims who suffered abuse at the hands of gymnastic team doctor Larry Nassar. Biles went public with her story just prior to Nassar’s sentencing in late January to serve up to 175 years in prison.
Last week, Biles became the first woman ever to be honored by the Barbara Sinatra’s Children’s Center in Rancho Mirage.
At the organization’s Champion Honors Luncheon held in her honor last Friday, John Thoresen, Director and Executive Officer of the Children’s Center, said, “As a leading gymnast, and a girl who unfortunately had an early life of neglect, abuse and foster care, [who] rose to be a champion, we feel it’s just a great honor for us to have her here.”
Friday’s event included an exhibit of The Art of Abused Children. The art was not for sale. Instead, according to center officials, “it was displayed to demonstrate both the role of art in therapy, as well as introduce the remarkable art in its own right—an expression of what the center’s children have experienced and, more importantly, an expression of their return to a life with promise.”
The nonprofit Children’s Center was founded in 1986 by Barbara and Frank Sinatra. It provides counseling to physically, sexually, and emotionally abused children, and focuses on prevention, community education, and breaking the cycle of intergenerational abuse.
Approximately 90 percent of the center’s budget comes from generous donations, charitable organizations and fundraising events like the luncheon to honor Biles. These fundraising efforts help ensure that no child in need of support is ever turned away due to a family’s inability to pay.
Visit barbarasinatrachildrenscenter.org/ to learn more about the Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center and the services it provides.