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'You can do anything!': Meridian girl inspires with her new love of adaptive sports

Brooklyn Gossard lost the use of her legs when she was just a toddler. Thanks to local adaptive sports resources, she hopes to one day be a paralympian.

Eight-year-old Brooklyn Gossard of Meridian lost the use of her legs when she was just a toddler. Doctors said he wouldn't be able to walk again, but now this  young girl is chasing her dreams of being a paralympic athlete. 

“When she was 15-months-old her balance seemed kind of off,” Brooklyn’s mom Allison Gossard said. “The next morning she woke up and she was completely paralyzed from the chest down. “

Her mom and dad rushed their little girl to the hospital.

“It took them about 48 hours and they diagnosed her with transverse myelitis,” Allison said. “Basically a virus attacked her spinal cord.”

Doctors said Brooklyn wouldn't walk again. “As her mom, I wasn't ready to accept that, so I did a bunch of research and I found the top pediatric neuroimmunologist in Dallas,” Allison recalled.

Brooklyn stayed at a Dallas hospital for two months and received cutting edge treatments and therapy. Incredibly, she slowly regained upper body function. For the last several years, she has been in intense physical therapy.

Brooklyn has come so far, and she has big goals.

“I want to be a paralympic athlete when I grow up,” Brooklyn said.

Two years ago, Brooklyn was invited to the Boise Parks and Recreation Youth Adaptive Sports Camp.

“It was a game-changer for her,” her mother told KTVB.

Brooklyn fell in love with sports, and the feeling of confidence being athletic gave her. While she was at that camp, she was also introduced to the Challenged Athletes Foundation. The nonprofit offers incredible sports opportunities for people with physical limitations and now has a branch in Idaho.

“Recently we launched in Idaho, specifically with the goal of making Idaho a destination for our adaptive athletes,” said Jennifer Skeesick, the Idaho Regional Director of the Challenged Athletes Foundation. “We offer camps and clinics for people who want to try out new things.”

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CAF also provides adaptive equipment. Brooklyn is now a proud CAF athlete. She has tried so many sports, things like surfing, skiing, mountain biking and much more.

“There's just a spark in Brooklyn's eye. You can tell she's a competitor,” Skeesick said. “We want to make sure she has what she needs to be successful.”

“She's been able to try so many things. They sent our family to San Diego,” Allison said. “We were able to meet some of the top para-athletes in the world.”

In San Diego, CAF's Team Idaho surprised Brooklyn on stage with her own handcycle.

“There's just a spark in Brooklyn's eye. You can tell she's a competitor,” Skeesick said. “We want to make sure she has what she needs to be successful.”

There's something else extra special about Brooklyn! She's a twin. Her sister Bella is her biggest fan.

“She's the strongest person I know. She can play lots of sports that I can do, but she can do it cooler than me, she can use cooler equipment,” Bella said. “She's way faster than me!”

Credit: KTVB
Twin sisters Brooklyn and Bella Gossard pose with KTVB’s Maggie O’Mara. The girls are in the 3rd grade at Gem Prep Academy in Meridian.

Brooklyn recently competed in a local YMCA triathlon for kids.

“So for the run part I do the racing wheelchair, the bike part I do the handcycle, and for the swimming part I just swim,” said Brooklyn. “It felt amazing.”

Bella is so proud of her twin. “She's really strong and she inspires everyone she meets,” she said.

The twin sisters have big plans for the future.

“Me and my sister want to travel around and do triathlons,” Brooklyn said.

Thanks to local resources like Boise Parks and Recreation, the YMCA and CAF Idaho, Brooklyn is an amazing young athlete.

“A lot of people with disabilities, they don't know what's out there,” she exclaimed. “You can do sports and that there is adaptive equipment for you!"

Brooklyn Gossard is proof that anything is possible.

“You can do anything," she said.

The Idaho branch of the Challenged Athletes Foundation is funded by the J.A. & Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation and accepts donations. Organizers want people in our state with physical limitations who are interested in trying adaptive sports to contact them. They can't wait to show you what you can do!

Check CAF Idaho out on Facebook here

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