When I was younger I thought it was awesome that there were holidays sporadically through every month of the year. I guess I was kind of spoiled being the only grandchild on the East Coast surrounded by my family for the first nine years of my life. That meant I got a card with a few dollars in it or a little treat from my aunts, uncles and grandparents every Hallmark-celebrated holiday plus some. Not that I grew up selfish, greedy or needy, but as a child you do have this tunnel view of the world and how it operates. You realistically think the world revolves around you.

Don’t get me wrong: I was raised on tough love, told to figure it out if I wanted to make it happen, and had to do chores around the house or my grandma’s to earn an allowance of coins (now-a-days kids get plastic). I would then save up for those things I wanted from my parents, who weren’t going to just go out and get it for me (it seemed like anything on my wish list I couldn’t have, haha). But taking that step back to reflect, my mom did absolutely everything for me. She has spent the last soon-to-be-29 years of her life living for her kids. What I mean by that is sacrificing all of herself for the betterment of her kids, to put them in situations where opportunities are available, providing a gateway to things she never had, and often taking the clothes off her back or food from her month to make it seem like everything was alright in out eyes to protect and nurture us.

One distinct example was when Hurricane Irene hit the East Coast and left my mom homeless. She told me nothing was too bad over the course of the week and to just focus on our team testing camp. She said everything would be fine. Well, my mom was sleeping in her car, our first floor was flooded and my sister was staying at a friend’s house until help arrived. Or that time my mom had a major heart attack and needed quadruple bypass surgery immediately. I came home without hesitation and she yelled at me in the hospital in front of all the nurses and said, ‘You have a Lake Placid America’s Cup race. You need to get your butt up there and qualify for world cup. I didn’t raise a child who just walks away.’ (If she could she would have waved and snapped her fingers and also said, ‘I made you, girlfriend, and I can still take you out,’ haha).

A few days ago I was driving to go train and the radio station put a classic Tupac song on during the throwback lunch hour. It was “Dear Mama,” and I couldn’t help but turn it up and listen to all the words the talented, poetic rapper was saying during the rest of my drive. When the song was over I realized that he hit on many things that my mom had to go through for me and my younger sister. I try all the time to put it into words who my mom is, what she means to me, her characteristics. It may be cliché to quote a song, but Tupac was a genius when it came to describing the love, nature and ultimate sacrifices a mother will have for her children.

“I can always depend on my mama

And when it seems that I'm hopeless

You say the words that can get me back in focus

When I was sick as a little kid

To keep me happy there's no limit to the things you did

And all my childhood memories

Are full of all the sweet things you did for me

And even though I act craaazy

I gotta thank the Lord that you made me

There are no words that can express how I feel

You never kept a secret, always stayed real

And I appreciate, how you raised me

And all the extra love that you gave me

I wish I could take the pain away

If you can make it through the night there's a brighter day

Everything will be alright if ya hold on

It's a struggle every day, gotta roll on

And there's no way I can pay you back

But my plan is to show you that I understand

You are appreciated”

I pretty much hit the jackpot when it came to moms. For elite athletes the biggest, most valued award you can achieve is an Olympic gold medal. Well I have MY gold medal… She’s my gold medal mom. It’s crazy to me, now that I am an adult, to think we have a “day” randomly in a month to “celebrate” our mothers. I mean, if I truly think about it, my mom has celebrated me and my sister for our entire existence every day. I’ll never be able to repay her but my goal is to show her that I understand all that’s happened and I appreciate her. For this is to honor her passions. She wants to see her kids chase their dreams without regrets and go for it, giving it their all, as well as help aid in the fight against Lupus. In her lifetime finding a cure is probably not realistic but helping to make those who are living with severe cases as comfortable as possible for the rest of their days.

This year I decided to change it up when thinking of what to do special for my mom on this “one” day a year. I decided to make it a month-long project. Through my social media outlet, Facebook, I decided to incorporate my mom’s two passion that stand out to me: fueling her kids’ passions/goals and fighting against the Lupus battle. I am fundraising for the next Olympic Winter Games, but, more immediate, the 2014-2015 World Cup bobsled season. I am selling USA Bobsled shirts for a minimum donation of $25 but accepting any generosity that comes my way and have decided that a portion of the total funds will be donated to the Lupus Foundation in honor of my mom.

I also had the opportunity to team up with Star magazine for their April/May edition, specifically for their Mother’s Day editorial where the task was to create a one-of-a-kind gift using DOVE Chocolate wrappers as inspiration for a unique gift highlighting our moms. Of course I made a gold-medal inspired Mother’s Day package.

This Mother’s Day give the gift you have but also be sure to give her a hug and whisper, “Thanks for everything, Mom, I couldn’t be the person I am today without all that you’ve done and still continue to do! You’re appreciated!”

Send your gold-medal mom a special message today.