The Gabby Douglas Story is an original Lifetime movie premiering at 8pm ET, February 1, 2014.
The Gabby Douglas Story tells the inspiring true story of the international gymnastics phenomenon, who beat overwhelming odds to become the first African American ever to be named Individual All-Around Champion in artistic gymnastics at the Olympics.
A prodigy from a very young age, Gabby Douglas originally made her mark on the world of competitive gymnastics at age eight. She won numerous state championship titles in her age group throughout her early competitive career. While her star was fast rising in the arena, Gabby and her family faced economic challenges at home and she made the difficult decision to leave her mother Natalie, three siblings and grandmother in Virginia Beach and move to Des Moines, Iowa, to train with renowned coach Liang Chow to pursue her dream of Olympic glory. Buoyed by her early success, dedication and unyielding love from her family, Gabby made it onto the 2012 U.S. Women’s Gymnastics team, with whom she faced intense competition in the London Games. Her sacrifice and perseverance were triumphantly rewarded with Team Competition and Individual All-round gold medals, placing Gabby and her teammates – known as “The Fierce Five” — among the world’s all-time greats in gymnastics.
I was given the chance to screen The Gabby Douglas Story before it airs on Lifetime. One word to describe the movie is motivating. It was more than just inspiring because the story truly motivated me to dig a little deeper into my faith and goals.
The movie starts with Gabby as a very young child. She is energetic and full of life. Literally bouncing around the house, climbing on top of things and doing flips in her bedroom – Gabby’s gymnast potential was born inside her. Her siblings were able to spot the talent before Gabby or her mother saw it for more than playing around. It wasn’t just the fun of the sport either. Gabby truly enjoyed watching Olympic gymnasts perform and would sit in awe of their talent. You could see her dreams in her eyes while she watched. Instead of being timid or having doubt she knew she could accomplish what other gymnasts accomplished. For Gabby it wasn’t just a dream, it was her life goal.
Gabby’s mother was a single mom working hard to make ends meet. She lived with strong faith and a life motto that she taught her kids, “Today should always be better than yesterday”. Their family had a vision board that they each worked on together. They sat around their dining room table and glued magazine clippings and other visual items to their poster board and then hung it in a central location for all to see daily. Each child added their favorite sport to the vision board as a reminder of what they loved.
When finances were tough and Gabby’s gymnastics lessons became more expensive her mother struggled to afford it. Gabby’s siblings made the decision to stop their extracurricular activities to put the money towards Gabby’s goals. They were determined to see Gabby accomplish what they knew she could. Eventually their family vision board was full of gymnastic medals with Gabby’s dream becoming a family goal. Her mother refused to passively wait for her ship to come in but instead insists that “God helps those who help themselves”. She taught her children that loves requires sacrifice and they all willingly made sacrifices so that Gabby can pursue her dream.
Like any other family the Douglas family has their shares of struggles. Gabby battles mixed emotions. She is determined to the point it almost breaks her family. Her determination at one point borders selfishness and her mother reminds her she was not raised to be a spoiled brat. Her goal consumes her. With a surprising opportunity landing in their family’s lap Gabby is provided a host family to allow her to leave her family behind in Virgina Beach and move to Des Moines, Iowa, to train with coach Liang Chow. This decision is the most difficult for each member of their family. Her mother has to say goodbye and trust the host family with her precious daughter across states and Gabby has to be brave enough to follow her Olympic goals alone.
After a minor injury and feeling a tinge of defeat Gabby is ready to give up and go home. A hard lesson is taught that talent is not everything. You must have heart and faith for the direction your life will lead. Many people have talent but not everyone succeeds. You have to want your goals and dreams more than the ability to accomplish them. It took Gabby’s brother, her best friend, the one sibling that did not want Gabby to move to Iowa to remind her why she is there and tell her she does not have permission to give up. The encouragement and faith her brother had in her was the turning point in her career.
In the end The Gabby Douglas Story is truly a story of success for the whole Douglas family. Their faith and love in one another is beyond amazing. I highly suggest watching the movie tonight with your family and then taking a moment to discuss some key points with your kids. What did you learn from their family’s life lessons? What did you learn about your own faith in God?
Here is a discussion guide to help you dig a little deeper into the message of this true and inspiring story.
Full Disclosure: I received online access to view The Gabby Douglas Story – Lifetime Original Movie before it aired on TV. All opinions are 100% my own. This post was not sponsored in any way.