nail art done in moving car
My Wish: Gabby Douglas inspires teen with lupus

Amarissa Mauricio nearly died when lupus attacked her body. Now out of crisis, Maurico once again took to a gymnastic mat and met her idol Gabby Douglas.

Given permission to do some gymnastics again, Amarissa was thrilled when the Olympic champion was waiting for her with matching leotards, “so we could be twins,” Amarissa said.

“She spent hours teaching me routines,” Amarissa said. “She showed me her bar routine, and she was so awesome.

"We went on the [balance] beam and tumbling track, and she taught me her Olympic floor dance routine. And she let me wear the grips that she wore during the Olympics on the uneven bars, that no one else has worn before.”

Lunch with Douglas’ family followed. “They were very down-to-earth, so friendly and kind,” Amarissa said. “And then told me she wanted to see me tomorrow, too.”

The next day, the two girls and their families convened at an art studio, where they split up into two groups and painted on canvases. Then came another surprise: Gabby asked Amarissa if she wanted to get in her car and come with her, just the two of them, to get their nails done.

For Amarissa and her parents, the experience of Amarissa’s wish being granted, the sight of their daughter doing gymnastics moves she hadn’t had the energy to try for the past 18 months and the kindness that Douglas’ family showed them won’t ever be forgotten. They’re hoping the two families can stay in touch and remain friends.

“It means so much more than meeting a gymnast with Olympic gold medals,” her mother said. ‘It was seeing our daughter with somebody that she’s inspired by. And it was seeing our daughter have hope through this individual. And it was seeing our daughter doing handstands and walking across a balance beam … that we were told she would never be able to do again.