Sisters Tai, 11, Rainn, 10, and Brooke Sheppard, 8, have all three destroyed any and all odds against them and are headed to the Junior Olympics in Houston, Texas.
The three girls, who live in a homeless shelter in Brooklyn with their mother, Tonia Handy, haven’t let life’s struggles deter their hard work and discipline. Handy has been raising her family alone for the last ten years. She and her girls have faced constant financial hardship and three years ago, the girls’ 17-year-old half-brother was murdered.
The AP reports that Handy had “managed to make ends meet until last year when she and the girls were evicted from their apartment in Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant section for failing to pay rent, landing them first in a motel shelter in Queens and then in the apartment shelter on a gritty Bed-Stuy street.”
The sisters were enrolled in track last year when their babysitter, who wanted to keep the girls occupied, signed them up for a track meet that didn’t require any entry fees. While in practice, all three girls were recruited by the Jeuness Track Club, whose goal is to keep its members focused for primed for college scholarships. At the time founder, Jean Bell, who recruited the girls, had no idea that they were related.
Tai, Rainn and Brooke have each qualified for multiple events in the Junior Olympics and will compete in the 800, 1500, 3000 and Hurdles and High Jumps according to their GoFundMe page, which has raised over $6,995 in two months surpassing their goal of $3,000, ensuring that the girls will be attending the Junior Olympics. And donations can still be made!
Their mother will not be attending because of work, sadly, but she is confident that her daughters will triumph.
Congratulations Tai, Rainn and Brooke! We’re rooting for you!
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