Congratulations to our 2012 ANNIKA Inspiration Award Winner, Lianna Thomas! Annika and Mike were both in New York City to present the award at the Annual Women’s Sports Foundation Gala. The Women’s Sports Foundation, founded 1974 by tennis legend Billie Jean King, works to advance the lives of girls and women through sports and physical activity. The ANNIKA Inspiration Award is given annually to one young female athlete who has overcome adversity to excel in her sport and give back to her community. The award was established through a partnership between The Women’s Sports Foundation and the ANNIKA Foundation.
Meet Lianna Thomas
Lianna Thomas, now a 17-year-old competitive figure skater, first discovered her love for skating at the age of 5. Her competitive spirit and dedication to skating yielded a gold medal at the 2011 State Games of America in San Diego, California as a junior single skater. This success was an early sign of her dedication and leadership. In search of a new challenge, she transitioned to pair skating. Thomas enthusiastically embraced this change, explaining that, “it is like falling in love with skating all over again.” After training together for only six months, Thomas and her partner qualified for the 2012 United States Figure Skating Championships.
Thomas was adopted from her native China by her U.S. family when she was just an infant. Drawing from her own life experiences, she was motivated to give back to her community. In 2009, Thomas founded Ice Pandas, a program which introduces figure skating as a confidence building activity for children adopted from China. In April of this year she relocated from New York to California to train and worked on organizing her new Ice Pandas, which will begin at the end of September 2012. Thomas received the 2011 Presidential Bronze Award for Service, awarded by the U.S. Government to honor Americans who meet a high standard of commitment to volunteer service and the Guanyin Award from Families with Children from China of Greater New York (FCCNY) for her outstanding work in the community. Thomas also started an after school reading group to help adopted children succeed in school. In addition to her work with young adoptees, after the earthquake in Haiti, Thomas raised money for Red Cross relief by creating a video appeal on behalf of the victims, “The Dollar Deal,” through which she asked friends and family for donations starting at one dollar. In addition to being an inspiration to young figure skaters, Thomas has transcended her sport and in doing so, aspires to become a positive role model for everyone all over the world.
Photos from the Women’s Sports Foundation Gala