By Leaps and Bounds

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“By Leaps and Bounds,” New Era, May 1997, 47

By Leaps and Bounds

If you knew that Aimee Walker was a gymnastics champ, you’d probably say that was pretty cool. If you knew that Aimee was born completely deaf, and blind in one eye, you’d probably be even more impressed. And rightly so. In fact, if Aimee’s cousin hadn’t broken her foot several years ago and offered to let Aimee take her place in a gymnastics class, she might not have discovered the sport she loves the most.

But she did, in a big way.

Not long ago, Aimee—a 13-year-old Beehive—was at a gymnastics meet standing at the ready to perform her floor exercise. Her coach motioned to her that the music was starting (the only special allowance that is made for her at meets), and Aimee began. Unfortunately, it was the wrong music. Instead of the dramatic music from the opera Carmen that Aimee had worked with for months, getting the rhythms and choreography just right, it was a selection of Dixieland jazz. Aimee, of course, couldn’t actually hear the music, so she had no idea what was happening.

“If her coach had tried to stop her, Aimee would have been disqualified,” says Aimee’s mom, Patsy. “She just kept right on going, and somehow she ended right with the music.”

And although it wasn’t Aimee’s personal best, it was the best score of the day. She won the competition. Aimee now holds the number one spot in the Northwestern States division, and is ranked 25th in the nation in her age group.

Her depth perception is impaired, making the beam and bar exercises even harder than they already are. And to top it off, she was born without hip sockets, and she didn’t learn to walk until she was a little more than two years old. And yet Aimee excels.

But what is even more impressive about Aimee is that she leads a balanced life. Although she loves spending hours practicing complex and challenging gymnastics routines, her love of the gospel runs deeper.

“Praying every single morning and at my meets is the best thing I do all day,” she says. “Before I go to work out, I always pray that I’ll be happy and be a good influence on others. The gospel helps me in so many ways.”

Aimee practices six days a week, reserving Sundays for church and other appropriate activities. She loves to do baptisms for the dead in the Los Angeles Temple, which is near her home in Studio City, California. Since her grandfather, Glen H. Walker, is the temple president and her parents are there to interpret for her, temple attendance is a family affair.

“Being inside the temple is really neat. I’ve been inside my grandpa’s office in the temple, and I always have a strong spiritual feeling when I’m there,” she says.

Aimee says she also loves going to Young Women activities, where she communicates with the other girls through a combination of sign language, writing, and gestures (if her mom or dad aren’t around to help). She thinks it’s important to set a good example to others who aren’t members of the Church.

“Some of my teammates are Jewish,” she says. “Others believe in Buddha. I let them know that I believe in Jesus Christ. We respect each other, and that’s how I think the Savior would want it. He wants us to get along.”

And that’s exactly what Aimee does. She gets along just fine. In fact, you’d never know that she sometimes struggles. Her happy smile and energetic personality put this girl leaps and bounds ahead of the crowd.