This two-time-winning Olympian has an impressive trophy case when it comes to her gymnast career—think six Olympic medals as a member of the “Fierce Five” in 2012 and “Final Five” in 2016—but athletics isn’t Aly Raisman’s only passion. Since stepping into the spotlight, the Needham native has worked closely with Heading Home (headinghomeinc.org), a nonprofit that provides permanent, transitional and emergency housing for low-income families and individuals. And now, she’s partnered up with YORK Athletics (yorkathleticsmfg.com) for the #FightFromHome initiative to release The Gail by Aly Raisman, an athletic sneaker. For every pair sold, another pair is donated to someone experiencing homelessness. Here, we catch up with the gymnast on her philanthropic endeavors.
What does this initiative mean to you?
The #FightFromHome initiative is extremely important to me. I am fortunate to have a safe place to call home, but I recognize there are so many out there who don't feel safe at home or don't have a home. This is heartbreaking. This initiative aims to help those in need—for every pair of the Gail by Aly Raisman bought, another pair of YORK Athletics sneakers will be donated to a person experiencing homelessness through the non-profit Heading Home. I am grateful for those who are giving back during these extremely difficult times, and I am committed to continuing to learn, find and share more ways to support our communities.
Can you give me more details on the collaboration? Why did you choose to do this?
Community is also very important to me. YORK Athletics is a Boston-based, family-owned company, and I live in Boston as well, so we decided to look in our backyard and find ways to support our community.
The initiative is inspired by your work with Heading Home. Tell me more about your work with the nonprofit, and any upcoming updates for 2021.
Heading Home is a great local organization, and the work that they do to help so many people is inspiring. I have worked with Heading Home in a variety of ways over the years, with the latest collaboration being this #FightFromHome initiative with YORK. It is crucial to have ongoing conversations with Heading Home to understand the organization’s needs and how best I can help.
Talk to me about the design of the sneaker. What was the thought process behind the style?
I love the color mint green, and find it very calming and soothing. It is also a unique color for a shoe! I like the style of the shoe because it’s easy to slip on and off and is very versatile—you can workout in it or wear it to lunch!
Do you have anything that readers can look forward to in the near future?
I am working on a few projects, and am also taking some time to focus on my mental health. I’ve learned that if I want to help others, I have to take time for my wellness, too. If you’re struggling, I encourage you to talk to someone. Talking to someone can help you feel less alone. I believe prioritizing mental health is so important, and I encourage everyone to take at least five minutes for yourself each day.
Photography by: Courtesy of York Athletics