Choosing to matter with Olympian Julie Foudy
Posted on August 14th, 2013 by Beth
I am so pleased to have Amy Liss back again as a guest blogger. We’ve known Amy since she was a baby — she started with physical, occupational, and speech therapy at Easter Seals Du Page and the Fox Valley Region when she was just 5 months old. Amy is a lovely grown woman now, and she works as a Relationship Coordinator at Easter Seals Du Page and the Fox Valley Region. You might recall the guest post Amy wrote last year after taking her first steps with a new piece of equipment to help her walk — now she’s back with a story about the relationship she’s forged with soccer superstar Julie Foudy.
Julie & Me
by Amy Liss
I met Julie Foudy six years ago when she brought a group of volunteers from the Julie Foudy Sports Leadership Academy (JFSLA) over here to Easter Seals Du Page and the Fox Valley Region to do a day of service. She’s come back with volunteers from JFSLA every year since then, always remembering to bring that year’s t-shirt as a special gift for me.
This year she gave me the best gift of all: she invited me to serve on staff at her camp! In case you don’t know who Julie Foudy is, she is an Olympian and played for the US Women’s National Soccer Team from 1987 to 2004. She served as the team’s captain from 2000 through her retirement in 2004. In 2007 she was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame.
Julie Foudy is a commentator on ESPN now, and she’s one of the founders of the Julie Foudy Sports Leadership Academy for girls from 12 to 18 years old. Julie can teach soccer, but her camp teaches much more than that. It teaches girls how to be leaders both on and off the field. She stresses the importance of teamwork, positive attitude and service. Her camp theme is “Choose to Matter” and girls leave her camp with a contract to go back into their community and make a difference.
My week with Julie and her staff at JFSLA was the best week of my life. I did wonder why she would want me on staff. It’s not because of my soccer skills. I’m not a famous name. I realized that Julie believes anyone can be a leader — even me!
My hope and my goal at her camp was to try to make a difference, bring some smiles and let people get to know me — my abilities, my challenges and my lifestyle. I think I achieved my goal. I had the opportunity to not just meet, but to become friends with some of the most genuine people I’ve ever known. Being asked to speak to her campers and staff was an honor and a life changing experience, and when I got home it was difficult to explain just how awesome it was to family and friends. But then Julie did that for me: she wrote an article about us for the ESPNW Newsletter! Here’s an excerpt:
When the girls ask Amy how she deals with her cerebral palsy in such a positive way, she says she’s lucky; a lot of people have it worse than she does. She’s grateful for all that she has, especially her “team.”
In one week, the girls change one another’s lives. Amy affects them the most, and they are not shy about telling me she’s their favorite part of camp — every single one of them! They’re no longer afraid of approaching someone in a wheelchair or worried about how to handle someone with a disability. They move beyond their fear of the unknown, and instead of shying away from one another, they cling to Amy and the lessons they learn from her. Perspective.
I’ve been awed at the number of positive comments from people who read her article and shared it with others, but I’m not the celebrity. I was just blessed to come in contact with a woman who believed in me and helped me believe in myself. Julie and I are good friends now. Together, we “Choose to Matter.”