Seattle, where I was born and raised, is known for a lot of things: Microsoft, Starbucks, Amazon, Kurt Cobain, Boeing, plaid shirts and rain rounded out the top eight at last count. You could extend the list to a thousand things, and gymnastics wouldn’t come close to making it.
But there are people here who are wild about the sport. For a decade, I spent nearly as many hours in a suburban warehouse gym as I did in school, and loved every minute of it. Jacoby Miles, a 15-year-old from nearby Puyallup, was the same way.
Last Friday, Jacoby, a level 9, was doing a double back dismount off bars into a pit in her gym, Roach Gymnastics, which is owned by 2008 Olympic weightlifter Melanie Roach.
But when Jacoby went for the skill, a move she’s been doing for years, she got lost in the air and came down on her neck on an eight-inch mat, pinching off her spinal chord.
Your life can change in one moment. It appears that Jacoby will be paralysed for the rest of hers.
Gymnastics is a struggle. It’s one of the things that makes it interesting to watch — here’s a sport full of movements that humans weren’t really made to be doing, and not only are they doing them, they do them with the goal of making the whole thing look effortless, which when you think about it, is not at all logical.
Nor is gymnastics like other sports. At the Olympic Trials earlier this year, Chris Brooks was asked by an incredulous reporter why there didn’t seem to be any animosity between members of the U.S. men’s team. “We all cheer for each other,” Brooks replied, “because we all know how dangerous these things are to do.”
Houston, where Brooks trains, is a gymnastics city. Seattle is not. So many people — in Seattle and around the world — love gymnastics, but very few have to pay for it the way Jacoby and others who have been in accidents like hers (Kathryn Mahoney, Taylor Lindsay-Noel) do. They deserve our help. Here’s how to help Jacoby:
Roach Gymnastics is accepting cash, check or Visa donations on behalf of the Miles family. Donations can be made online, dropped off, or mailed to:
Team Jacoby Fund
c/o Roach Gymnastics
627 45th St. E.
Sumner, WA 98390
(For donations larger than $500, call the gym at 253-826-5999.)
In addition, nearby Emerald City Gymnastics is spearheading a nationwide fundraiser in which gymnasts across the country are being asked to make a get-well card for Jacoby and include at least $20. The goal is $50,000 by Thanksgiving. Cards and donations can be sent to:
Team Jacoby Fund
17735 N.E. 65th St., Ste. 110
Redmond, WA 98052
- Team Jacoby website.
- Get Well Jacoby site.
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