Raising Champions

My little champions. Photo: Growing Up Bilingual. All rights reserved.

The London 2012 Olympics are almost here.  It is truly so inspiring to see all of these athletes who are realizing their dreams, who have worked so hard and have excelled by pursing something that they love and it makes your wonder… how do you raise champions? How do you, as a mother help your children achieve their dreams?

Interview with Ondina Lopez

It was so wonderful to have the opportunity recently to listen to Ondina Lopez, the mother of London 2012 Olympic Games hopefuls Steven and Diana Lopez, and the heart of the “First Family of Taekwondo”.  Her four children are at the world elite level in this sport and two of them, Steven and Diana will be competing in Taekwondo at the Olympics. The Lopez family made history at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China – with three siblings on the same U.S. Olympic Team and a fourth as their coach.  How amazing is that?

Hearing directly from Ondina Lopez what her role has been as a mother I was so excited.  Ondina is a fellow Central American, she and her husband moved to New York from Nicaragua in 1972 (my family and I moved to Florida from Guatemala only 4 years ago).

Ondina worked hard, making many sacrifices so that her children would be able to practice Taekwondo, waking up at 5:30am every day so that the kids, who got their love of Taekwondo from their father who loves martial arts, could practice before school.  She supported her children and build up their self esteem by teaching them to be disciplined, dedicated and determined. Listening to her answer questions from other Latina moms it was clear that, at the base of her children’s success is a strong and united family.  The whole family shared their love for the sport and they all worked hard together, getting up early every day to train and then training again in the afternoon after school and homework, as a family.  Ondina would cook them healthy home cooked meals and encourage them by telling them how much she loved them and how there was nothing they could not achieve. Ondina’s love for her children has no bounds, she said she would have done anything she had to do to ensure their children could train and when asked what was the most difficult thing for her she answered that it was hard to see them fight and compete because Taekwondo is a contact sport and she always worried about them.  It is amazing to me how she faces this fear and puts her children first and foremost supporting them, encouraging and building their self esteem all the way.

Steven Lopez

For Steven Lopez, London will be his fourth Olympic games. He won a gold medal in both the 2,000 and 2,004 Olympics and a brought home a bronze medal in the 2008 Olympics.  Steven is not only an amazing athlete, he was also a member of the Honor Society in high school and was voted by his classmates as most likely to succeed. Taekwondo fighter Steven López knows that his healthy, winning smile helps fuel his confidence during competition, and in life. This Olympic gold medalist and 2012 hopeful has partnered with Procter & Gamble Company (P&G), to share how a healthy oral care routine is an important part of his winning moments.

Visit the crest website at  www.crestcomplete.com  to learn more about Steven.

Raising My Own Champions


So proud of their trophies. Photo: Growing Up Bilingual. All rights reserved.

Listening to Ondina I could really identify with everything she was saying.  As a mother I would go to the ends of the Earth for my kids and no sacrifice is too big for my children.  For me ensuring they can realize their dreams and live happy and fulfilling lives is the most important thing in the world.

If you have read this blog before you might know that both of my children are on the autism spectrum.  This means they have to work twice as hard as most kids but that doesn’t mean that they cannot succeed.  They both have big dreams and it is up to me to build their self-esteem and their self worth, to make sure that they know how much they are loved and how valuable they are and that they have many strengths and many abilities.  It is also my job to instill in them a love for success and feed their drive by teaching them the value of hard work and how perseverance will help them reach those dreams.

Riding all by herself. Photo: Growing Up Bilingual. All rights reserved.

When my daughter was diagnosed making sure she got the help she needed early on became a full time job.  That meant only my husband was earning money and with the extra expenses piling up from evaluations, tests and therapies our financial situation forced us to move in with my in laws. At the time my little girl was 3 years old and she got on the bus to attend a special pre-K program at 6:30am and came back at 3:00pm.  While she was in school I made sure my little guy got all the socialization he could by attending play dates, going to the park and any activity I could find for him.  After school I took both kids to private therapy and we where usually not home until 5pm.

My daughter will be starting 2nd grade soon, even though she is still in a special classroom she is doing level work, she loves reading and next year she will start to be integrated into a regular classroom with the accommodations she needs to succeed.  My 4 year old did not need to go to a special program as with the support of his great teachers he is attending a regular Pre-K program.

We changed the therapies for yoga, horseback riding classes, Zumba, karate and swimming lessons.  My little girl can now ride a horse all by herself and my little guy is swimming and doing amazing in karate. I couldn’t be prouder, they work hard every day . I will always believe in them and encourage them because I am truly convinced that they can do anything that they set their mind to do.

My family. Photo: Growing Up Bilingual. All rights reserved.

To learn more about P&G Oral Care Olympic Games partnership, please “Like” Crest on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/crest).

Disclosure:  This is part of a sponsored campaign with Crest and Latina Mom Bloggers. However, all opinions expressed are my own.

Paula Bendfeldt-Diaz

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