When Anisa made her way across the balance beam at the East York Gymnastics Club, her mother Tabassom Momtaheni was both ecstatic and proud.
“It’s great for me,” Anisa’s mother said. “I never thought she was going to walk by herself.”
What made this moment so remarkable was that Anisa, 6, had a brain tumour, which affected her balance and co-ordination, and made walking a nearly impossible task. But with a helping hand, Anisa was able to make her way across the beam. That helping hand belonged to Amanda Cyr.
“It was incredible,” Cyr said. “She was able to walk … seven or eight steps by herself without her parents, which was a huge accomplishment. … It was really heartwarming to see her improve so much over the course of just a few months, and to see the benefits she got from the program.”
Cyr, now 20, has been involved with the East York Gymnastics Club since she was 18 months old. She competed at the provincial level and following her competitive career, has worked to give back to the community.
Cyr first met Anisa when she created the East York Gymnastics Children’s Funded Program. The 10-week program gives access to children otherwise unable to participate. The club’s program manager Sandi Robertson recalled the work Cyr put into the program.
“She got all the sponsorship herself,” Robertson said. “She really went above and beyond to bring something back to these kids…
“She recruited coaches herself to help her teach (without remuneration). … When it ended, she did it again. She said, ‘I don’t want to stop. These kids want more.’ I get goose bumps … just thinking about it.”
For Cyr giving back comes naturally because that’s the way she was assisted.
“My gymnastics coach, Jessica, played a very large role in my life. She was more than a coach to our group; she was a confidant,” Cyr said. “She gave me appreciation for going the extra mile for others. … Her compassion and determination to help others – even just in our group – really gave me an appreciation for helping others in my own life.”
Her own coach’s gift to Amanda Cyr, proves that a bit of volunteer time can do a lifetime of good.