“We hear incredible stories everyday here at Faith, Hope & Charity.” You may remember that phrase from our Annual Campaign; you may also remember Justina. As donors and friends, we want to share with you an inspirational story that was recently shared by Michele Maguire, Resident Coordinator here at Faith, Hope & Charity.
Michele works with Justina, and has done an amazing job recently of working with staff & community to create an opportunity for her to participate as a member of the “White Caps,” our Storm Lake Swim Team. Swimming is a favorite activity for Justina, and becoming part of the team was a dream come true. The following story of how this young woman with a dream, along with a dedicated staff and a community came together to make a difference. In Michele’s words…
Special Olympics, Special Education, and Special Needs are usually the activities the kids here at Faith Hope and Charity typically participate in. These are great opportunities and every kid who participates always has a fantastic time with the biggest smile on their face throughout.
However, our very own Justina was offered the opportunity and the challenge to try out for her first-ever competitive swim team, the White Caps, here in Storm Lake. The beginning was a challenge, starting with a leak at the pool the team uses to practice, delaying practices until just days before the first meet. Justina also just wanted to swim the doggie paddle instead of the more competitive styles of swimming such as the backstroke or freestyle.
After a couple practices, Justina and her coaches were still trying to find a good common group in order to help her succeed. With a promotion to being team manager on the table, we decided to give it one last try. The second swim meet for the team was coming up so we enrolled her in three heats at her first ever swim meet! Webster City was more than welcoming to our Storm Lake team and to Justina. It came to be time for her first heat and we are all so excited and nervous at the same time. Will Justina swim it? Will she stay in her lane? Will she get out of the pool when finished? With the help of a fellow high school teammate, Justina got in the water and took off like a dart! She swam and swam until she got to about 10 feet from the finishing wall. Then the entire crowd caught on that she was starting to give up. You could hear cheers from all sides of the pool. “You got it Justina!” “You can do it!” “Way to go!” Her face lit up, she put her head in the water, and swam to the wall to proudly slap it in a way that said, “I did it!”
At this point, there was an eruption of cheers for Justina, who completed and succeeded in something she only dreamed of happening. She ended up finishing 4/6 in her second heat and completed her third with a beaming smile of confidence.
It goes to show that with a little patience, persistence, and supportive advocacy from the entire FHC family, her family and town swim team, anything is possible. We have our next swim meet coming up and we are more thrilled than ever to see what this athlete can accomplish. So in the times you think something isn’t possible or can’t be accomplished, always remember, “Just keep swimming.”