From the moment in 2008 that Olympic gold medalist Gabby Douglas saw how much fun Shawn Johnson and her coach, Liang Chow, seemed to be having, she began lobbying mom Natalie Hawkins to move more than 1,000 miles away to West Des Moines so she could train at Chow’s Gymnastics and Dance Institute.
It was a hard sell. Finally, in 2010 Hawkins, a single mother of four, relented. Douglas told her mom she had a shot at the Olympics, but only if she got advanced training from Chow.
"I'm sick to my stomach the whole time and when it's time to go back, I'm not even sure where she's staying. And I'm thinking to myself the whole time, 'What kind of mother does something like that?'" the Huffington Post quoted Hawkins as saying at the London 2012 Olympics after Douglas became the first African-American to win the women’s gymnastics all-around gold.
Douglas eventually ended up in the home of Travis and Missy Parton after a three-month stint with another family didn’t work out.
In this powerful video from P&G, the sponsor of a series of videos looking at the mothers of Olympic athletes, Hawkins and Missy Parton share what they’ve learned about family.
“It’s really about a family taking in a child and welcoming her in, despite differences,” Hawkins said. “They have gone beyond my wildest expectations. There’s nothing I could ever do to thank them for joining us on this journey.”