Guest column/Dreams allow our lives to be more productive

One of the most outstanding speeches ever to be made by anyone was Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech on Aug. 28, 1963, in Washington, D.C. Within his speech, he would inject, periodically, in his loud, exclamatory voice, “I have a dream today.” I am also reminded of John Darion’s lyrics to his classic song that was written in 1965, “To Dream the Impossible Dream.”

We must always have a dream to enable our lives to become more productive and positive.

Whether the dream is to be a professional, or to help, in a leadership role, to make a person’s living more of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, we must always remember that if we can’t enjoy the dream of freedom, our children will be affected strongly. So as we dream, we must hold onto it with faith.

During the slavery years, our forefathers held onto the dream of freedom – and today, we are free from the degradation of visible chains. However, we will always dream by faith to be free from the invisible chains.

One of the most extraordinary and moving stories of faith, sacrifice and determination is the profile of Gabrielle Christina Douglas (known as Gabby), whose dream was to go the Olympics in gymnastics.

She as born on Dec. 31, 1995, to Timothy Douglas and Natalie Hawkins in Virginia Beach, Va. She has two older sisters and an older brother. She had a talent for running and jumping at an early age. When her mother began to notice her uniqueness in running, she persuaded Gabby to try to stick with what she seemed to love.

At the age of 3, Gabby encountered her first experience with gymnastics when she perfected a straight cartwheel using a technique that she learned from her older sister, Arielle. By the age of 4, she had taught herself to do a one-handed cartwheel. At the age of 6, her sister then persuaded her mother to allow Gabby to begin formal gymnastics classes. Two years later, at the age of 8 in 2004, she was named a Virginia state champion.

Gabby made her national debut in 2008 at the U.S. Classic in Houston., where she placed 10th in the all-around rankings.

In 2009 she suffered an injury to her wrist and could not compete.

She competed in 2010 at the Supergirl Cup in Worchester, Mass., where she placed fourth in the all-around. At the 2010 U.S. Junior National Championships, she won the silver medal on balance beam, placed fourth all-around and on vault and tied for eighth in floor exercises.

In October, at the age of 14, Gabby convinced her mother to allow her to move to West DesMoines, Iowa, to train under Liang Chow, the former coach of gold medalist Shawn Johnson. Gabby and her mother were very satisfied with her housing and the company she would encounter for most of her two-year stay. Chow found a great family who wanted to help someone who was striving to be something. They were labeled as adopted guests parents and family.

When she first met Chow, she said, “I want to compete in the Olympics.” Chow stated, “You just arrived here and the Olympics are six months away. That is impossible.”

Gabby began her journey with Chow, who taught her many performance techniques. He taught her how to perform the Amanar Vault in a single afternoon.

She won various medals, especially on the beam and vault. She placed high on the bars and won the gold medal on the uneven bars. She was featured on the cover of the Sports Illustrated Olympic preview edition with her teammates. She practiced with Chow every day, seven days a week. She did not waver.

In 2012, at the age of 16, she became a member of the Olympic gymnastics team. Gabby became the first African-American to win a gold medal as the individual all-around champion in the 2012 Olympic Games.

She became the face of the American Dream. In 2008, she won the Junior Olympics.

Her mother prompted her children to say once a day, “Today should always be better than yesterday.” It was a slogan in their home.

Gabrielle Douglas, at a young age, knew exactly what she wanted. She pursued her dream, and she always knew who she was, which demonstrates the point that faith can and will move mountains.

Her coach stated that she was gifted and one of the best in the sport, which demonstrates that a champion is made of heart.

A person can reach the top, but it comes with great sacrifice and suffering. She kept the faith – with determination.

We, as African-Americans, realize that we have to work harder, with faith, knowing our price always comes with more suffering, because we are African-Americans. May God bless Gabrielle Douglas – she without a doubt makes us proud.

God of our weary years, God of our silent tears, Keep us forever in the path, We pray.

(Wiggins, a resident of Steubenville, is the president of the Ohio Valley Black Caucus Inc.)