There was a Twitter post that initially grabbed attention. A medal drive? To help sick kids? To help inspire them to keep fighting and reaching for their dreams? A medal drive to award those kids who may never be able to compete, let alone win a medal?
Yes! A Medal Drive!
Faimalie Sale, a senior at Los Alamitos High School, was the runner-up in the shot put at the CIF-State Championships last June. She is the top qualifier for Saturday's CIF-Southern Section Division 1 Finals at El Camino College. She ranks No. 2 in California and tied for No. 29 in the USA this season. She has a scholarship to throw at Arizona.
Faimalie Sale is conducting this medal drive.
But she'll quickly explain that the idea wasn't hers. In fact, it is two years old. That, according to Sale, is when another top CA thrower, Elena Bruckner, the 2016 Gatorade California Girls Track & Field Athlete of the Year, conducted a similar drive to collect medals to deliver to ill children in hospitals in Northern California.
Sale's direct inspiration is her young cousin Toneh, who is a leukemia survivor.
Here's how she first explained her project to MileSplitCA:
"So my sophomore year, Elena Bruckner, a former California thrower, held a medal drive for kids in hospitals in the San Jose area," Sale wrote in a Twitter exchange. "I wanted to do the same thing because I have a close relative who has been in a hospital bed fighting for his life at such a young age. He is now a healthy boy, 4 years cancer free, playing a sport that he loves.
"Having the idea of playing a sport once he got out of that bed made him stronger and I believe that it can help change another child's life just by giving them the joy of having a medal.
"I feel that I have grown as an athlete because of him and I want to let the kids know that I fight to compete in honor of them while they fight for their lives.
"It's just me right now with the organization, but I have gotten a lot of support from former California track and field alums. I will be delivering all I have the weekend after State!"
We checked in with Bruckner, the California record-holder in the shot put now at the University of Texas, who shared her medal drive backstory:
"I wanted to be a doctor at the time and I've always been very involved with community service," Bruckner wrote in a Twitter DM. "My freshman year I was a part of a club that donated to cancer kids and we would hold events at the Stanford Ronald McDonald House. My senior year I was packing everything up for college and realized how many medals I had accumulated that I didn't really make use of. Then I was inspired by my previous experience helping sick kids and thought, 'How awesome would it be to put these to use? I may not get much gratification out of a medal from freshman year but I would LOVE to put a smile on a kid's face. A kid who more than deserves to be recognized for their own fight and battles won.' "
We visited with Faimalie Sale this week to talk about her season, fouling out in the discus throw at the league meet, and, of course, the Medal Drive (click the > to view the video):