Sports

Kristen Bell Honors The Gymnasts Of The #MeToo Movement

by Kristin Marguerite Doidge

May 8, 2018

Three trailblazing women — Kristen Bell, Josina Anderson, and Dominique Moceanu — were on hand to honor 23 gymnasts at a recent gala in Los Angeles.

It was a night to be remembered after a year that some athletes in the gymnastics community might like to forget.

Since 2010, the Foundation for Global Sports Development Humanitarian Award has typically been presented to an Olympian during the Summer Games or Winter Games.

But this year was different.

“We decided, in this case, to honor the gymnasts [who came forward about abuse] because they’re the heroes,” says David Ulich, president of the foundation.

The award is given to individuals and organizations who have stepped up as leaders and champions for equality or social, economic, political, or environmental justice. It honors those who actively fight against indifference, injustice, and intolerance.

Past recipients of the award include Olympian and advocate Anita DeFrantz as well as champion swimmer and fellow International Olympic Committee member Richard Pound.

“These gymnasts have been fighting hard — for all of us,” said actress and advocate Kristen Bell when she spoke at the event on April 28. “Fighting the men that abused them, but also, and maybe more importantly, fighting the silence.”                                 

Former athletes, Paralympians, and advocates of the cause all joined forces to support the courageous women of the gymnastics community who had come forward to speak out about the abuse they had suffered at the hands of former coach Doug Boger, and former gymnastics physician Larry Nassar.

Some of the honorees — ranging in age from 15 to 58 — present to accept the 2018 Humanitarian Award on behalf of all of the survivors included Larissa Boyce, Alexis Alvarado, Alexis Moore, Makayla Thrush, and Sarah Klein.

Josina Anderson, Kristen Bell, and Dominique Moceanu honor 23 gymnasts at an awards gala on April 28. Photos by James Sullivan, courtesy of The Foundation for Global Sports Development.

“The event also marked the launch of the foundation’s new abuse prevention program, which is set to begin in schools nationwide next year. FGSD has designated $1 million to develop the educational program, which will be launched in collaboration with Childhelp, an international leader in child abuse prevention and awareness.”

Ulich and the foundation’s co-founder, Steven Ungerleider, share a vision for every child to experience the joy of sport in a safe environment.

“Let’s start by listening to, honoring, and supporting a movement that seems to hold all of us accountable,” Ungerleider added.

California will be the first state for the rollout of the program, and athletes and survivors are encouraged to volunteer as participants. “Champion Ambassadors” will be on hand to introduce the comprehensive educational curriculum that the organization says will be research-based and evidence-informed. The goal is to benefit all youth — including athletes — and will also offer materials and support for educators, parents, school administrators, coaches, and community members.

Additionally, the foundation will be developing a digital platform as an extension to the program and as a way to connect all participants. Through the partnership with Childhelp, participants will have access to the 24/7 nationwide child abuse hotline staffed by crisis counselors who can provide intervention and assistance in over 170 languages.

Learn more about the Foundation for Global Sports Development by visiting www.globalsportsdevelopment.org.

Photos by James Sullivan, courtesy of The Foundation for Global Sports Development.

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