Paralympic swimmers Elizabeth Stone (L), Susan Beth Scott (second from left) and fencer Jimmy Moody (right) with their tetherball instructors Catherine Harris and Ruby Harris at the Colorado Springs Olympic Training Center.
Ruby's letter to the U.S. Olympic Committee, which generated
14,220 Facebook likes and was shared more than 500 times.
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- What started as a simple question from a daughter to her father turned into a dream come true for one precocious seven-year-old from Denver.
“I was playing tetherball with my dad one day and asked, ‘Why isn’t tetherball an Olympic sport?’” said Ruby Harris who was glued to the television during the London 2012 Olympic Games. “And he said, ‘You can make it one.’”
Harris, a second-grader at Lowery Elementary School, then wrote a letter to the U.S. Olympic Committee asking for tetherball to be included on the Olympic program. Harris’s letter made its way to the USOC and was posted to various social media outlets as the, “cutest Olympic sport petition yet.” The photo quickly accumulated 14,220 likes on Facebook and was shared more than 500 times.
Soon after, Harris received a handwritten response from the USOC.
When asked during an interview with KOAA-TV how it felt to get a response to her letter, Harris was simple: “It felt pretty good.”
The response letter invited young Harris, and her family, to visit the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs where they would eat lunch, play tetherball and get a VIP tour of the facility from three resident athletes in training for the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
On Saturday, Harris made that visit.
Harris, accompanied by her parents, Erin and Andrew, her younger sister Catherine, and her grandfather spent a fun-filled day at the OTC.
They ate lunch in the cafeteria with London 2012 Paralympic swimming medalists Susan Beth Scott and Elizabeth Stone, as well as Olympic fencing hopeful Jimmy Moody. After lunch, and a brief rundown of the rules from Harris, including handmade tetherball rulebooks compliments of the second grader, the trio of world class athletes took on Ruby and Catherine in what turned out to be some intense games of tetherball in the OTC courtyard.
The competition drew the attention of several other resident athletes, employees and visitors taking tours around complex who stopped to watch as Ruby gave the athletes a run for their money.
Following the tetherball lesson, a worn down Moody invited the Harris family to the fencing building for an impromptu lesson in his favorite sport. Ruby and Catherine proved to be naturals on the fencing piste, quickly picking up the footwork and lunging techniques.
Overall, Ruby’s letter was a success -- not only bringing attention to the playground staple tetherball, but also bringing attention to the voice that all Americans have.
"A good lesson for kids is to write a letter and to know your voice does count and somebody is actually listening," said Andrew Harris.
While both Ruby and her dad agree that tetherball still faces a long road to Olympic inclusion, for them, the best part of this experience was the realization that someone was listening.
Click here to see video of Ruby's visit.