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November’s Extraordinary Athlete is Danielle Gibbs. Danielle is a wife to Nathan and mom to sweet little Jackson, whom you may have seen at the gym watching his mommy or working on his box jumps. You may have seen Danielle’s post in the CrossFit Odyssey Members Only group on Facebook and been amazed at what she is dealing with in her life. “My ‘why’ (I workout) is my heart. While the ultimate goal is to make full recovery from PPCM, I don’t think that will ever be the case. So my realistic goal is to be the strongest person I can be with just 18% heart function. Say I should be able to walk? I’ll run 13.1 to prove I can and will live on. I danielle2Crossfit to try to put more distance between me and the norm. No one knows my true limitations so I will continue to push like I don’t have any. Running and lifting weights saved my life and WODs continue to be my lifeline”. Yes, Danielle had a very rare disease during her pregnancy in which she lost function of most of her heart. Most women notice this immediately after childbirth and many women die from it. Danielle noticed it about 6 months later – after an intense boot camp! The doctors were amazed that when she came to the hospital her heart was functioning at 4 percent! They also have been amazed with her recovery where she is proving how strong a woman can be almost daily.

img_1479Danielle also stated, “My second ‘why’ is my son, Jackson. I almost passed away when he was 6 months old from PPCM and I push myself and my heart so that I get to see more of his life. I want to see him grow up, graduate, get married, etc. When I want to give up in a WOD, I think about him and how I have to work hard to earn more days as his mom.” This kind of awareness of the delicacy of life and how important it is to stay healthy is what made Danielle stand out to us as this month’s extraordinary athlete. When she comes into the gym she is focused on using proper form, challenging herself both in skills and in fitness goals and pushing herself to her limits – which is a huge deal for someone with her heart condition!

We all have a choice in life as to how we are going to deal with the stresses we face in life. Just in our little gym we have people who have dealt with life-threatening illnesses, death of loved ones, horrible car wrecks, financial trauma and so much more. It is so easy to get bogged down with the little things until something big happens and it is all put into perspective. We are each given one life and one body. Danielle has taken the cards she was dealt and turned it into a winning hand through perseverance, dedication, and commitment. Not to mention a winning attitude and smile!

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