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Remembering Gary gymnast

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Updated: October 8, 2012 1:57AM



A few days before Olympian Gabrielle “Gabby” Douglas made history as the first African-American to win the women’s gymnastics all-around finals and became America’s sweetheart, I received a text from a friend.

“Who was the Gary gymnast who tried out for the 1984 U.S. Olympic Games but suffered an injury and did not complete the trials?”

My mind went blank in trying to conjure the girl’s name and this was a big moment in Gary at that time, I, as well as my friend, were high school students and some things you tend to forget more than others.

By the next day I got an email from that friend with the subject title, “Dianne Durham!”

Durham laughed at my admission during a phone conversation. I am glad she is a forgiving soul. After that email I also wondered what happened to Durham and what she was up to.

Durham is doing fine living in Chicago with her husband and splitting her time as a choreographer, coach, public speaker and author.

“I’m starting to work on a book project that will relate to all people, not just gymnasts, on the journey of getting to the pot of gold,” Durham said. “Even though you may not get that pot of gold or have a happy ending, going through the journey is a positive outcome also.”

I mentioned attending a viewing party at Hustle & Joe’s, 1700 Grant St., with Gary relatives of Douglas — her mother Natalie Hawkins is a Gary native along with maternal grandparents Theodore and Nadean Hawkins — along with other friends and fans.

We all watched Douglas make history.

“I watched Gabby at a competition in Chicago. I hope to meet her one day,” Durham said. “I am very proud of Gabby, her mom and the family.”

I asked if she had any advice for Douglas and the major change in her life.

“I would tell her to keep the faith, keep the confidence, stay grounded and know who you are as a person. Always enjoy life, but enjoy family more,” Durham said.

Local entrepreneur Rhondalyn Cox invites you to a “Seminar Explosion” from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 11, at the Kennedy Branch of the Gary Public Library, 3953 Broadway.

Cox, former owner of V’Schenell’s Balloons & Gifts, now operates Angels and Butterflies. She is also the founder of Women’s Empowering Impact Program.

Like Saturday’s event, W.E.I.P. offers networking seminars, workshops and classes to benefit and improve adults and children in their spiritual growth.

For more information, email angelsandbutterflies10@yahoo.com or call Cox at 378-6979.



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