National Gymnastics Day in Camas

VEGA gym earns a $1,000 grant from Right To Play

Backed by a $1,000 grant from Right To Play, the Camas based Vancouver Elite Gymnastics Academy hosts an open gym and a Cartwheel-A-Thon Saturday.

The goal of this grant program is to increase the exposure and accessibility to gymnastics to a diverse population of children, and to use the sport to educate and empower those facing adversity. All proceeds from the event will go back to Right To Play.

“It’s an unbelievable opportunity for us to give back to the community that has continued to support us all these years,” said founding coach and co-owner Randy Fox. “We are just a conduit for getting everybody involved in helping children. If we can turn this into a huge amount of money to give back, that’s what will make this rewarding.”

The new ownership team of Fox, Zdravko Stoianov, and Candice and Marty Miller presented a business proposal to Right To Play on what they planned to do with the grant money. Children from the Boys and Girls Club will take a bus from Portland to Camas to check out the facility, meet the coaches and try out the equipment. There will also be a drawing for 10 of those kids to earn a free session of gymnastics at the club.“This is a vehicle for our community to support kids,” said Compulsory Gymnastics Director Shannon Michael.

“We want to reach out to the children of the Boys and Girls Club and give them an opportunity to stay active and learn a new sport,” added Marketing Director Karrie Christopher.

The Cartwheel-A-Thon will challenge gymnasts to see how many cartwheels they can do in 10 minutes before a rest period. Money will be donated depending on the number of cartwheels they complete within the hour.

“It gives kids a chance to raise money, depending on their skill set,” Michael said.

The proposal caught the attention of Right To Play. VEGA was one of only 26 clubs in the U.S. to receive a grant.

“We feel very blessed,” Fox said. “There are hundreds of clubs in the northwest that probably applied for this. We’re the only one that got one.”

Loyal members and families keep VEGA going strong. The academy moved into the Camas Armory building in April 2004. Today, there are more than 30 coaches teaching gymnastics, as well as dance and music in the Virtuosity Performing Arts Studio.

“People from all different walks of life come here,” Fox said. “VEGA started with 10 kids 10 years ago. Now, there’s well over a 1,000. That’s all from word of mouth and our loyal community.”