BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — Azia Hawkins rarely sits still. The 14-year-old does cartwheels and handstands in her front yard in Bloomington, and earns first place trophies at gymnastics competitions across the United States.
Her father, former basketball player Larry Hawkins, and mother Suzanne Hawkins are always on the go, too. Both of them call Azia's gym – IGM Gymnastics – their "second home." On any given day, they're helping out around the gym: playing music at rehearsals; painting and remodeling; and volunteering their time.
"I just like to see the girls happy, you know, doing what they do in terms of their floor exercises, the bars, the beams," said Larry. "I said if I’m going to support (gym owner Irina), I’m going to support her 100%."
Then in August, the busy family came to a halt. First Suzanne, then husband Larry and daughter Azia contracted COVID-19. While Azia recovered quickly, Suzanne and Larry were hospitalized for weeks.
"I didn’t realize that it takes your lungs to actually do everything in life. Because even going up the stairs in the beginning, it just took a lot out of me," Larry said. "I was looking for air and I just (felt) my whole world was coming down on me. So then I had an emotional breakdown. And I started crying."
Azia remembers being quite scared.
"When he cries, it would normally be because he’s happy about something, like a happy cry," Azia said. "I’ve never seen him cry like that."
Larry, the sole provider for the family, said he didn't know how he would pay his medical bills. Soon, the IGM Gymnastics community rallied around them, creating a GoFundMe that, as of Friday, had raised more than $3,000.
"We are so grateful for all the families," said Suzanne. "I wasn’t expecting the GoFundMe, and I’m very thankful to everyone."
The Hawkins family also wants to express their gratitude to their doctors as well as Larry's workplace, where staff members have been very supportive and understanding.