Bajan gymnast Kelly renews back-to-school drive to help those in need; remains focused on next month's World Champs assignment

By August 12, 2023
KELLY...I like how volunteering brings people together and keeps us humble. KELLY...I like how volunteering brings people together and keeps us humble.

She is not only a bright prospect in her field, but Barbadian gymnast Olivia “Storm” Kelly, is also honing her skills as a budding philanthropist, as she reignited efforts to assist, and, by extension, ease the financial burdens of students and teachers in need, for the new school year.

Through a Back-to-School drive, Kelly uses her Social Media platforms to seek donations of stationery items and other office supplies for teachers in particular, who often have to dig deep into their pockets to acquire said items.

The American-born Kelly, who earns her Barbadian stripes through her father, Tori, pointed out that her zeal for helping others is spurred by her own appreciation for life’s experiences.

“Honestly, I’m not even sure when I first started volunteering. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been helping collect or giving toys, school supplies, clothes and more to people in need. I like how volunteering brings people together and keeps us humble and that is basically my motivation, just being grateful for where I am at,” Kelly told Sportsmax.tv. 

“Whenever I am collecting supplies, toys, food, clothes, or whatever I’m doing, my gym, my mom’s work, and my friends and family are always so supportive. They always donate and ask if I need anything. People always have no problem donating things, especially if they don’t have time to volunteer.

“It’s a good way for everyone to give back. Everyone doesn’t have the same resources, but most people are willing to give back in one way or another. I’m always looking to do a little more and trying to reach more people,” she added.

While the initiative is focused mostly on the United States, the 17-year-old has in the past extended a helping hand to Barbados and revealed that she is hoping to do more at some point.

“I’m always trying to bring my help into Barbados. It’s not cheap to get supplies over there. I have donated leotards to Flip Gym, went in and offered lessons to the gymnasts there and most recently posted and donated to a charity organization called Build up Bim,” she shared.

“I would definitely like to keep doing this, maybe even finding more time to actually go out and volunteer. I can’t talk about it yet, but I do have something in the works with a teammate of mine to help athletes who lack resources,” Kelly revealed.

The soft-spoken gymnast, who has her eyes set on becoming the first gymnast to represent the Eastern Caribbean Island at the Olympic Games, and, if successful, it would propel her career to higher heights.

Achieving such a dream is by no means impossible and Kelly, also known as "Storm," in gymnastics circles, is well positioned herself to make it happen when she takes the World Gymnastics Championships stage in Antwerp, Belgium, next month.

The event serves an Olympic qualifier and, as such, Kelly, despite her voluntary efforts outside of the gym, is focused on ensuring her performance quality and the details of her routine are on point, while staying physically and mentally healthy.

“Fortunately, volunteering never takes away any time or affect my training in any way. I’m able to work around my training and my family is a huge help in making it happen,” she declared.

“I had to take a few weeks off after PanAm for my back. I have Scoliosis and every so often I get to a point where my back needs some rest. I’m in the gym now adding things slowly and listening to my body and I am fortunate to have great doctors and coaches to help me through.

“Being back in the gym is going really well. I definitely feel like I’m in a better mental and physical space this year, and I feel much more confident going into this Worlds. I have much more experience this year as well, which definitely helps, so I’m very excited to compete in Belgium this year and give the 2024 Olympics a shot,” Kelly ended.

Sherdon Cowan

Sherdon Cowan is a five-time award-winning journalist with 10 years' experience covering sports.

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