Dame Valerie Adams Encourages Kaikohe Youth to Achieve Their Impossible

"All I want to do is help inspire our kids to be the best they can be. And that’s what I feel is my responsibility in serving the Lord."

News Release

 

The over 350 people who crowded into the Kaikohe Stake Centre to hear Dame Valerie Adams speak the night of Saturday, September 29 learned several interesting things: Eating lunch with the Queen was awkward; the best part of the Olympics was the food tent; and you don’t have to come from ideal circumstances to be a champion.

Adams, a two-time Olympic gold medallist shot putter and member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was speaking as part of an event organised by the Church to help inspire youth and parents in the local area.

Adams and her husband, Gabriel Price, spent the morning working with members of the community to preserve and beautify the Paihia area. People gathered to clean rubbish from a local beach and pull invasive weeds from a bush track being restored by Project Island Song.

Later that evening, Adams participated in a Q&A session and spoke to a large group of Church members and community residents in Kaikohe, New Zealand.

Adams, who said she felt a need to talk honestly with the youth, addressed issues such as the death of her mother, teenage insecurities, infertility, eternal families and her own personal journey of faith.

“I think as a society we really need to be there for our youth,” Adams said. “It’s not a one-man job. It’s a whole community. It’s a whole country.”

People weren’t always there for Adams. Her mother died when she was just 15, and she went through a period of homelessness and struggled to find the money to go to school. However, despite being grief-stricken and lost, Adams had a dream: to go to the Olympics. She’d made that her goal the night before her mother died, and she wasn’t about to give up on it.

She rode a little bicycle every day to the facility where she trained for the next two to three years, and made it to her first Olympics at age 18 despite having appendicitis surgery before the competition. That hurdle and many others were overcome by sheer determination and hard work on Adams’ path to eventual championship.

Adams was raised a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but when her mother died she said she felt angry with God for taking her away at such a young age, so she went her own way for the next 12 years.

She credits the Plan of Salvation, which teaches that families can be together even after death, and the patient encouragement of her now-husband Gabriel for bringing her back to faith.

“I understand what eternal life is. I understand what eternal families are. I understand the Plan of Salvation,” Adams said. “And I am grateful to my eternal companion [Gabriel] for giving me that opportunity—I truly am.”

              

Adams ended with some advice to the youth in attendance. Growing up, she said she hated being tall. She was 6’4” at 12 years old, and she said she never felt normal. Only when she decided to accept and embrace her height much later was she able to truly love herself.

She told the youth to embrace their unique identity and own who they were, then ended with a challenge: reach higher and work harder for impossible dreams.

“Hard work pays off, regardless of what your goals are. Serve a mission, be a pilot, be a lawyer, be an athlete—whatever you want, you decide,” Adams said. “I want you to find your impossible and make it possible.”

Adams lingered after the event to meet the youth and take pictures with them and their parents. Several attendees said that they were deeply moved by Adams’ sincerity and authenticity, and that they plan to start working now to accomplish their own ‘impossible.’

“I never ever forget where I come from. I never ever forget who I am. I never forget my humble upbringing,” Adams said. “All I want to do is help inspire our kids to be the best they can be. And that’s what I feel is my responsibility in serving the Lord.”

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