Aly Raisman To BBYO: Be Kind, Speak Out, Stand Up For Survivors
(JTA) — Aly Raisman, the Olympic gold medalist gymnast, told a BBYO conference she drew strength from her Jewish upbringing.
Raisman, addressing the pluralistic youth movement’s annual conference in Orlando, Florida on Friday, said she wanted to “talk about how proud I am to be a Jewish athlete,” which drew cheers.
“Being Jewish is all about family and I think being Jewish is all about being a good person,” she said. “I have so many amazing memories of being with family during the Jewish holidays.”
Raisman, 23, advised her audience to seek family where they could find it. “Family does not have to be blood-related. It can be a coach close to you, a teacher, a friend anyone that you trust,” she said.
She alluded to her abuse by Larry Nassar, a former doctor for the U.S. Olympic gymnastics team. Nassar was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison for molesting over 150 women and girls over two decades.
“Everyone is a survivor of something no matter what it is,” she said. “There are many people out there who have bravely spoken up about their stories of abuse, but there are many people who are also suffering in silence.”
Raisman has been one of Nassar’s most vocal public critics since last fall. A video of her giving powerful court testimony at his sentencing hearing went viral last month.
She said anyone suffering should speak out.
BBYO’s International Convention, running through Feb. 19, is expected to over 3,000 teens from 36 countries, for sessions led by peers, educators, thought and business leaders, celebrities, political figures and philanthropists. BBYO calls it one of the largest Jewish communal leadership events in North America, and the single-largest gathering of Jewish teen leaders worldwide.
This story "Aly Raisman: Be Kind, Speak Out, Stand Up For Survivors" was written by JTA.