Local donor supports UNI athlete on her Paralympic journey

Every four years, thousands of athletes from across the globe gather for the Olympics and Paralympics. This year, the games are slated to be held in Tokyo and UNI Track and Field athlete Jessica Heims is on pace to compete as a member of the US Paralympic Team. With the help of local donor Dan Deery, her family won't miss the opportunity to watch her compete. 

Heims is the world record holder in the discus with a 2019 toss of 64 feet. She was not able to compete in a meet in 2020 in the wake of a global pandemic, but she has been working diligently to prepare to compete in 2021 in Tokyo.

The cost associated with being a world-class athlete isn't cheap, especially when specialized prosthetics are involved. There is also the cost of traveling halfway across the globe for the event. While her travel cost will be covered by the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee, her family would have to pay out of pocket to attend the event. In Heims' case, Deery stepped up to take the burden off of her family for the travel cost to Tokyo and the upkeep on her prosthetics.

"It means the world to me that the local community is there to support me and my family on my journey," Heims said. "It takes a whole village to prepare for this. It isn't just the athlete, it takes a family, a group of coaches and a whole community. It is awesome to have everyone rallying to support me." 

A video (with joyful, mild profanity included) posted on Heims' Twitter account showed her parents opening a Christmas package with a letter from Deery and a check to pay for the expenses. The emotional reaction from her parents was heartwarming and the video had over 113,000 views at last count.

Heims will continue to prepare for the Paralympics, starting with the outdoor track and field season this spring before heading to the US Paralympic Trials June 17-20 in Minneapolis. The Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 run from Aug. 24-Sept. 5, 2021.

Toyota is a worldwide Olympic partner of the Olympics and Paralympics.