BREAKING NEWS : Fort Wayne police make arrest in killing of James Hines on Lewis Street Full Story

Simone Biles: My adoptive parents were brave

Simone Biles sat down with CNN to talk about her time in foster care, her adoptive parents and the funny routine her family has after each competition.

Posted: Feb 6, 2018 1:00 AM
Updated: Feb 6, 2018 1:00 AM

People love to ask: "What's your secret?" Sometimes they want to know how I defy gravity on the mat. Other times they want to know how I went from foster care to the Olympics.

My answer to both is the same: a mix of talent, hard work and grabbing the right opportunity when given the chance. When I was far too young to know it, others around me saw that I had a gift for gymnastics. Without their encouragement and support, I would have never been a gymnast.

I was blessed to have both a gift and the chance to develop it. But many people aren't so lucky.

Did you know that in the United States there are nearly 400,000 children and youth in foster care? In my mind, those are 400,000 talents waiting to be discovered. But as few as 3% of foster kids go on to earn a bachelor's degree, compared to about 30% of the general population.

Is it possible that all of these young people have no desire to go on to higher education? Clearly not. They simply lack the support, and often the financial resources and opportunity to realize their potential.

So, I'm speaking up on their behalf to say it's time for an education revolution. It's time for a new model, where everyone has an opportunity to learn no matter their background.

And I want to advocate for these kids because I was a foster care kid myself. My road to success began the day my grandfather and his wife officially adopted my sister and me. My birth mother suffered from drug addiction, and when I was just three years old, my siblings and I were removed from her custody. From there, we bounced around until I was six and my grandparents made the brave move to adopt us.

Although I was young when my foster care ordeal began, I remember how it felt to be passed off and over-looked. Like nobody knew me or wanted to know me. Like my talents didn't count, and my voice didn't matter.

Finding a family made me feel like I mattered. Finding a passion, something I loved and was really good at, made me feel like I mattered. Representing my country and being part of such an amazing Olympic team matters, as does being a role model for those looking to fulfill their own dreams.

Which brings me to the issue of education. There is overwhelming evidence to suggest that children and youth in foster care are a vulnerable population in the education system. Across the United States, 52% of foster youth attend schools that rank in the lowest 30%. Worse yet, nearly a quarter of foster youth struggle with learning disabilities in the school system.

And that's saying nothing of the academic and emotional challenges that accompany multiple family and school placements over the course of childhood.

But if we invest in foster care children, they, too, can have the opportunity to succeed -- which in turn strengthens our communities, economy and society. And one area of investment that I'm particularly concerned with is college.

I always dreamed of going to college. I had planned to go the University of California Los Angeles, but I deferred and continued training at my home gym.

However, I wasn't satisfied with my deferral. I wanted to find a way to pursue my studies while still training for the next Olympic Games, and that's why I enrolled at University of the People, a non-profit, tuition-free online university that is opening access to higher education for students around the world.

The online university format gives me a uniquely flexible opportunity to fit college around my career in a way that didn't otherwise exist. And it isn't just a great solution for competitive athletes. It's an opportunity for anyone who feels that the financial, structural or personal barriers to college are too high for them to overcome.

Knowing what it means to have the odds stacked against you, I believe it is my duty to provide assistance to those most in need. For this reason, I am launching a scholarship fund at UoPeople for foster kids and others. This fund will assist with covering the costs associated with earning their degrees -- including application fees and assessments fees at the end of each course.

Our circumstances shouldn't define us or keep us from our goals, especially if that goal is higher education. My hope is that I can help other foster care children realize that goal in the months and years ahead.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 118322

Reported Deaths: 3591
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion21502767
Lake10688323
Elkhart6707111
St. Joseph6619113
Allen6330205
Hamilton4938109
Vanderburgh378131
Hendricks2766124
Monroe265536
Tippecanoe256613
Johnson2352124
Clark225957
Porter219947
Delaware200162
Cass19559
Vigo186827
Madison170375
LaPorte149141
Floyd139664
Warrick138242
Howard132663
Kosciusko125917
Bartholomew118457
Marshall101524
Dubois99919
Boone99146
Grant95134
Hancock94643
Noble93132
Henry81226
Jackson7739
Wayne77014
Morgan73438
Daviess68028
Shelby68029
Dearborn67528
LaGrange64011
Clinton62314
Harrison59224
Putnam58411
Gibson5355
Knox5289
Lawrence51629
Montgomery51121
DeKalb48811
White48714
Decatur45939
Miami4394
Greene42735
Fayette42313
Jasper4012
Scott39011
Steuben3907
Posey3460
Sullivan33812
Jennings31612
Franklin31325
Clay3085
Ripley3078
Orange28824
Whitley2826
Carroll27813
Adams2763
Wabash2728
Starke2717
Washington2701
Wells2674
Spencer2633
Jefferson2503
Huntington2473
Fulton2442
Tipton22822
Randolph2238
Perry22113
Jay1920
Newton17411
Owen1711
Martin1680
Pike1641
Rush1574
Vermillion1310
Fountain1292
Blackford1213
Pulaski1141
Crawford1100
Parke1072
Brown1043
Benton870
Ohio797
Union790
Switzerland690
Warren411
Unassigned0226

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 151802

Reported Deaths: 4746
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin27119607
Cuyahoga17554656
Hamilton13237315
Montgomery7938164
Lucas7343364
Butler6085111
Summit5366252
Warren311549
Marion311147
Mahoning3095281
Stark2913175
Pickaway267944
Lorain233386
Delaware230621
Fairfield213253
Licking194963
Columbiana194080
Wood192172
Trumbull1916132
Clark183940
Clermont174423
Lake164851
Greene149034
Medina147539
Miami146351
Allen146269
Portage116866
Mercer113218
Erie95947
Tuscarawas94120
Wayne94068
Richland92219
Ross89624
Madison84312
Darke80643
Geauga72649
Athens7242
Belmont72427
Hancock72010
Lawrence67122
Ashtabula66048
Shelby66010
Putnam61923
Auglaize6119
Sandusky58020
Huron5557
Union5512
Scioto5167
Seneca48814
Ottawa47130
Preble44515
Muskingum4383
Holmes3959
Jefferson3384
Henry33414
Defiance33012
Champaign3133
Logan3133
Clinton30213
Perry3009
Brown2922
Knox28815
Washington26223
Jackson2616
Morrow2612
Fulton2591
Hardin25713
Crawford2476
Ashland2464
Coshocton23411
Fayette2336
Highland2303
Williams2143
Wyandot21312
Pike2020
Gallia19613
Meigs17610
Guernsey1738
Hocking1679
Carroll1527
Adams1364
Van Wert1243
Monroe11018
Paulding1100
Harrison643
Morgan500
Vinton473
Noble340
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Broken Clouds
61° wxIcon
Hi: 62° Lo: 46°
Feels Like: 61°
Angola
Scattered Clouds
57° wxIcon
Hi: 62° Lo: 46°
Feels Like: 57°
Huntington
Broken Clouds
59° wxIcon
Hi: 62° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 59°
Decatur
Scattered Clouds
57° wxIcon
Hi: 63° Lo: 46°
Feels Like: 57°
Van Wert
Scattered Clouds
57° wxIcon
Hi: 64° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 57°
Few Showers Wednesday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events