Paralyzed Gymnast Bounces Back: “Saying I Can’t Is Not Allowed”

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Gina Giaffoglione grew up in her father’s gym in southwest Iowa, tumbling since the age of six. When she went away to college in Nebraska, she started her own gym, but always planned to come home and help her father with the family business. That is, until one poor decision changed her life. Six years ago, Giaffoglione made the choice to get into a vehicle with a drunk driver. There was a crash, and Gina was ejected from the vehicle, paralyzed from the waist down.

While many people might presume a paraplegic woman couldn’t continue to teach tumbling, they would change their minds if they met Gina. Posted around her father’s gym are posters with the words I Can’t crossed out, and she lives out the family motto, refusing to back down from a challenge. In fact, Gina recently moved back home to teach at the family gym, while her father Gary contemplates his retirement. Gina’s students aren’t focused on her chair; they see her as a passionate teacher with a love for tumbling. As she puts it, "I think a lot of people in my position feel alone, just because we are different...but we're not. I'm just shorter and I get better parking.”
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