The Keri Strug Story for Kids

Have you ever heard of the Olympic Games? The Olympics is a huge sporting event that happens once every two years, where countries from all over the world come together in one place to compete. It starts off with a big parade and is an exciting time for everyone in the world. A young girl named Kerri Strugg was one of the Olympians who competed in the games.

Kerri was born in Tucson, Arizona and started taking gymnastic classes when she was only 3 years old. She went to gymnastic practice very often and worked very hard at improving her skills. It wasn’t always easy, but she loved gymnastics and wanted to be very good at it. She loved swinging on the bars and doing cartwheels and flips on the mats. And by the time she was 8, Kerri was competing against other gymnasts. Soon after this she started practicing very seriously with a special coach so she could go on to the great Olympics games. Her family even decided to move so she could practice with the best coach. It probably wasn’t easy moving schools, having to make new friends, but she was determined to reach her goal.

When Kerri was only 14 she went to her first Olympics in Barcelona Spain. She was the youngest girl on the team and got to fly far across the ocean with the rest of her team. At the Olympics they worked very hard and did their best and ended up winning a Bronze Medal — which is a very great award, but it is 3rd place. More than anything she wanted to win a Gold Medal. But for many years the Gold Medal in gymnastics was won by the Russian and Romanian teams, who were very good.

In between Olympics, Kerri continued to practice every day. She continued to learn more and build stronger muscles and improve until she could be the best gymnast she could be. There were times she fell and got hurt and it was hard to get back up, but she had a goal in mind and kept going. One time she was swinging around a bar and hit another bar and it hurt her so badly she had to go to the hospital. It took a long time for her to train her body so she could compete again, but nothing stopped Kerri. 

Around this time her coach from the first Olympics, Bela Karolyi, started to work with her again. She continued to do well in other competitions, preparing for the Olympics. But finally the Summer Olympic Games came again. This time it was in Atlanta Georgia, and Kerri joined her team of other gymnasts who became known as the Magnificent Seven. When Kerri got to the Olympics, she saw the Russian gymnasts and remembered how good they were. They always seemed to win and Kerri and her friends wanted the Gold Medal so badly. 

When the games began, the Russian gymnasts were doing very well. They had also trained very hard and also wanted the Gold Medal. For many days the Russians were receiving higher scores and Kerri and her team wondered if they could win. On the last day it was Kerri’s turn and she ran as fast as she could across the mat, did a cartwheel, then a back-handspring and flipped several times and landed on the mat, but her feet didn’t land right and she heard a “snap!” Then she fell and her ankle hurt very badly. She wanted to cry, but held it in and limped off the mat. 

By this time the score was very close and she would have to do a flip one more time if she wanted her team to win the Gold Medal. But her foot hurt and she didn’t know if she could do it.

“You can do it!” her coach, Bela said to her. “You can do it.” Everyone was cheering her on. They believed she could do it again, even though she was in so much pain.

When it was her turn, Kerri took a deep breath, tried to forget the pain in her foot, and started at the beginning of the mat. She wanted to win so much. She knew she could do it. She heard the crowds cheering. She started running even though her foot hurt. She did another cartwheel and back hand spring and many flips. When she came down on the mat she landed with both feet! It was amazing! The crowd cheered wildly! She had done it! With her hurt ankle she had done the flip and landed on both feet! The judges gave her a very good score.

But this was all she could give and after raising her arms to the crowd and the judges, she fell down. Her coaches ran to her side, because they could see she was hurt. She was taken to the hospital so they could bandage her leg.

On the final day of the Olympics Kerri was carried out to the crowd by her coach, Bela, with her bandaged leg, and there she and her team listened to the Star Spangled Banner, America’s song as they received Gold Medals. After all of their practice and hard work their dreams had come true! 

This was Kerri’s last Olympic Games, but as she got older she went on to do other good things that weren’t in the news, but still important. She became an ice skater and also finished college. Kerri then went on to teach elementary school in California and later got married and became a mom to two kids. 

Like Kerri, when we have goals we can work toward them. Every day we may need to do something to make them happen. We can dream and dream, but in order for those dreams to become true we have to do something about them, even if they are small. What you do doesn’t always have to be in the news or make you famous, but if it’s improving yourself or helping others around you, that is what is most important.

Wayne Gretsky Story for Kids

Gretzky and Messier are rushing down the ice on a 2 on 1. Messier takes the puck deep into the zone, throws it out front to Gretzky, Gretzky one-times it and he scores! Number 99 from number 11, what a duo.

Wayne Gretzky #99 – “The Great One” as most hockey fans know him was born and raised in Brantford, Ontario, Canada. He was the oldest child with 1 sister and 3 brothers. His mother’s name was Phylliss and his dad’s name was Walter. 

Wayne, his brothers, and friends grew up learning to play hockey on a backyard ice rink built by his dad. They nicknamed the backyard rink “Wally Coliseum”. Walter would set up different drills for the kids to practice different hockey skills. He would have them skate around bottles and cans on the ice and flip pucks up over sticks he laid down. This taught the kids to be fast thinkers and good with the puck. Wayne picked up the skills very quickly, He became very good at a  young age.

When he was 6, Wayne played on a team that was mostly 10-year-olds and was the best player on the team. The jerseys were way too big for Wayne, so he had to tuck his jersey in to keep it from hanging. He continued to do this all the way through his NHL career.    

By the time Wayne had turned 10, he had already scored an amazing 378 goals and 139 assists in one season with his Brantford hockey team. His amazing play attracted attention even outside of his hometown, and he appeared in several articles in the news.

Playing hockey at such a high level, unfortunately, upset a lot of his teammates’ parents, so at 14 his family moved to Toronto both to escape the pressure of his hometown and to help further his hockey career.

At age 14, Wayne played Junior B hockey in a league that included 20-year-olds. He earned Rookie of the Year awards  in the Metro Junior B Hockey League in 1975–76, with 60 points in 28 games. The following year, as a 15-year-old, he had 72 points in 32 games with the same team, renamed the Seneca Nationals.

Even though he had  two great first seasons in Toronto, he didn’t get chosen first overall in the Ontario Major Junior Hockey draft. The Greyhounds chose him 3rd overall. That was the first time that Wayne ever wore the number 99.

From junior, Gretzky moved onto play with the World Hockey Association in 1978. Wayne signed on to play with Indianapolis but only ended up playing 8 games for them before being sold in a deal with the Edmonton Oilers, who were at the time another WHA team.

In his one and only season as part of the WHA, they chose Wayne to play in the All-Star Game. Wayne had the honor of playing with his idol Gordie Howe and Gordie’s son Mark.  

On his 18th birthday, the Edmonton Oilers signed Wayne to a 10-year contract, which was the longest contract ever written for a pro hockey player. The deal was worth 3-million dollars. That same year Wayne finished 3rd in the league with 110 points. 

At the end of Wayne’s first season, the WHA league had to end  because of money problems. 3 teams from the WHA including the Edmonton Oilers joined the National Hockey League (or NHL) for the next season. As part of joining the NHL, the 3 teams could protect only a few players. Edmonton protected Wayne so that he would continue to play for them.

In his first NHL season, Wayne won the award for MVP (most valuable player) and tied for first in scoring with 137 points. This still stands as the highest number of points ever scored by a first-year NHL player.

During the 1981-1982 season, Wayne set a record when he scored 50 goals in only 39 games. The previous record was 50 in 50 and had been in place for 35 years. 

He ended that season with 212 points in 80 games, becoming the only player in history to break the 200 point mark. He was named Male Athlete of the Year, Sportsman of the Year, and Newsmaker of the Year in 1982.

During his time in Edmonton, Wayne held or shared 49 NHL records and won the Stanley Cup 5 times over a 7-year period. 

A huge honor came for Wayne when he was named an officer of the Order of Canada in 1984. He was then promoted to the Companion of the Order of Canada in 2009 for everything he had done for the sport of hockey. , and  as one of the best players of all time. Also, for his acts of giving, and as a volunteer, and role model for many young people.

Wayne had a major influence on the style of play for the Edmonton Oilers and the NHL as a whole. He inspired others to play as a team, which helped lead the Oilers to become the highest-scoring team in NHL history.

Gretzky was the first Canadian star hockey player who made the game and his play about the team. Most teams before Wayne focused only on getting the puck to their best players so they could score. Wayne and the Oilers changed this.

He improved his teammates because he included them in every play. If they wanted to play with Wayne, they needed to play their best and play as a team. Wayne knew he was too small and not strong enough to carry the plays all by himself, so he used his teammates fully.

Wayne stayed in Edmonton until 1988. Just 2 hours after winning the Stanley Cup, Wayne found out that he was being traded to the Los Angeles Kings. The deal happened quickly and involved a few other players from the Oilers that Wayne requested be included in the trade to join him in LA.

In Wayne’s first game in Edmonton after being traded, he received a 4-minute standing ovation. They sold out the rink and at the time it was the Oiler’s biggest crowd ever.

Wayne’s first season in LA saw an increase in the number of people attending the games and huge growth in fan interest in a city not typically known for following hockey.

Wayne stayed in LA from 1988 to 1996 before moving to the St. Louis Blues in 1996 for one season. They then traded him to the NY Rangers where he played until retiring from hockey in 1999. 

During his career, Wayne played in multiple international tournaments including the World Juniors, Canada Cup, World Championship, and the Olympics.

No one player has ever had such a huge impact on the game of hockey like this small Canadian boy did. Despite all the challenges that he faced growing up being a star hockey player, Wayne kept going and didn’t let the negativity stop him.

Even with the nickname The Great One, Wayne Gretzky has shown himself to be one of the nicest, most caring, and compassionate people that has ever lived. He never acted like he was anything special and always put his team first. We can all learn a lot from Wayne.

Bethany Hamilton Story for Kids

In 2005, a surfer named Bethany Hamilton won the National Scholastic Surfing Association National competition. Fifteen-year-old Bethany absolutely destroyed the competition in the Explorer Women’s final. She accepted her award at the competition dinner to 500 people standing and clapping for her. Bethany thanked God and her coach, Ben Aipa, for helping her win.  

After winning third-place in the Open Women’s surfing competition in 2003, the world knew it was only a matter of time until this special girl achieved Nationals gold. What they didn’t know was the amazing journey that Bethany would take on her way to finally winning gold.

Bethany Meilani Hamilton was born on February 8, 1990, in Hawaii. She began surfing at the age of 8 and gained her first sponsorship by age 9. Bethany was home-schooled from 6th grade through high school by her mother, who was a stay-at-home mom. Her father worked as a server at a town cafe.

In October 2003, after having placed 3rd in the Open Women’s division earlier that year, Bethany’s life changed forever. Bethany went for a morning surf with her best friend Alana, Alana’s father, and her brother. There she was attacked by a shark and lost her left arm just below the shoulder. 

Her friends helped paddle her back to shore. Then Alana’s father made a tourniquet out of a rash guard and wrapped it around the bottom of her arm. She was rushed to the hospital and a doctor living in a hotel nearby raced to the rescue. 

During later interviews, she said that she felt normal when she was bitten and felt very little pain from the bite at the moment of the attack, but felt it go numb on the way to the hospital and she ultimately lost her entire arm during the surgery that saved her life.

Despite what happened, Hamilton was determined to start surfing again. One month after the attack, she got back on her board. First, she used a custom-made board that was longer and slightly thicker than standard and had a handle for her right arm, making it easier to paddle. She learned to kick more to make up for the loss of her left arm. 

After teaching herself to surf with one arm, she returned to surfing on November 26, 2003, just 26 days after the attack. She entered her first major competition on January 10, 2004. She now uses normal short boards to compete.  

The shark-bitten surfboard that Hamilton was riding during the attack, as well as the bathing suit she was wearing at the time, are on display at the California Surf Museum in Oceanside, California.

Even though she lost her arm, Bethany has had an impressive career with numerous 1st place awards. But more important than the medals is her story of overcoming such tragedy where many would have given up.

Bethany’s story has been turned into multiple books, including a few written by her. She has appeared on many tv shows, magazine articles and in 2004 was named the Best Comeback Athlete and also received the Courage Teen Choice award.  

The last two books written by Bethany were based around the theme of being unstoppable. One of her books is named “Be Unstoppable: The Art of Never Giving Up” and has inspired readers to be bold, enjoy life, and trust God each day. Bethany is very devout in her religious beliefs and is always quick to share them.

Bethany married her then-boyfriend Adam in 2013 and together they have three sons, Tobias, Wesley, and Micah. The family still lives in Hawaii where they surf and spend time together. Her kids all know about the attack in 2003 but she has used this as an important lesson for them on staying strong.

Bethany has always given her time and money to help others, including her own foundation, Friends of Bethany. Her foundation reaches out to amputees and youth, encouraging them to overcome difficulties by offering hope and encouraging them to have faith. 

Within the Friends of Bethany Foundation there are four different programs:

  1. Beautifully Flawed: retreat designed for young women ages 14–25 who have experienced traumatic limb loss.
  2. Shine Forth: Night filled with stories and inspiration to overcome, free community event to gather together and share comeback stories.
  3. Anchored in Love: Conference for girls and young women ages 12 and up, a one-day event designed to help girls and young women discover their true beauty, purpose, and worth. 
  4. The Forge: Men’s retreat where young male amputees come and focus on faith, fitness, and healthy living.

Bethany has done so many amazing things in her career as a surfer despite the adversity she had to overcome. She never stopped, she never gave up, and she never stayed scared. She knew that she had to start surfing again right away because she wasn’t going to let the shark attack take anything else away from her.

She’s used her position as a professional athlete to promote living a fit and healthy lifestyle and to inspire other young athletes and amputees that anything was possible for them in life if they just didn’t stop.

Everyone in life will face many setbacks, but it is how we react to these setbacks that define us. Do we stop moving or do we remain unstoppable? We all need to be more like Bethany, we need to be strong and we need not let fear define who we are or we can become.    

Thanks for listening to this episode about Bethany Hamilton and be sure to tune in for a new episode next Monday.

Bob Feller For Kids

Tonight our story is about a boy named Bob Feller. Bob lived on a farm with his family where they grew corn. Bob loved baseball and always looked forward to playing catch with his father after a long day of work. He practiced throwing a baseball everyday, but he always did his chores first. Bob always put his family and his work first because his father taught him the importance of hard work and priorities. Having priorities, means doing important things first such as work and school before other things like playing with toys. Bob’s father saw how good he was becoming at baseball, so he decided to start growing wheat instead of corn because it would give them more time to practice together.

When Bob grew a little older he began playing with a team in his town. An important man with a baseball team saw how fast Bob threw the ball, so he hired him to play for the major league team, the Cleveland Indians. Bob was only 17 years old when he pitched his first major league baseball game. He quickly became well known as one of fastest pitchers in major league baseball. His fastball was recorded to be 104 to 107 miles per hour. That is very fast! Bob Feller also became the first pitcher to win 24 games before the age of 21.

Bob also had a great love for his country. After Japan attacked Pearl Harbor and the United States entered World War II, Bob joined the United States Navy. The Navy said that Bob didn’t need to go into battle and that he could stay where it was safe, but Bob said he wanted to be with the other soldiers where he could fight for his country. He was assigned to a battleship. When the war ended, Bob received many awards for his hard work.

After the war, Bob returned to playing with the Cleveland Indians and in 1948 they won World Series which is the biggest championship in baseball. Bob was one of the greatest pitchers in baseball. He said that his skill and speed in pitching came from hard work milking cows, picking corn, and baling hay on his family farm. Even with all Bob’s success in baseball, he always put important things before baseball, such as his family and his country.

Like Bob you can put important things first in your life, such as helping around the house, learning new things, and helping others. You can also practice at sports or other talents in order to become good like Bob. Practice is what you do to become better at something. Bob Feller showed us that even when someone becomes famous, they can still think about others by serving their country and doing good things.