The Alabama Gymnastics team visited University Place Elementary School Tuesday afternoon to visit as well as distribute school supplies and toys to children affected by April’s devastating tornado.

Crimson Tide gymnast Geralen Stack-Eaton distributes books to students at University Place Elementary on Tuesday.

The toys and supplies came from Wildewood School in Ralston, Neb., where Susan Laxton, the mother of former Crimson Tide gymnast Meredith Laxton, teaches kindergarten.

“So many of our current and former gymnasts did so much after the tornado to help get Tuscaloosa back on their feet,” UA head coach Sarah Patterson said. “When Meredith Laxton’s mother Susan heard what had happened, she gathered her students together and asked them what they could do to help and they sent boxes of toys, books and school supplies.”

The gymnasts helped the University Place students, many of which lost everything in the storm, pick out items to take home.

“It was such an amazing moment when the children saw everything laid out on the tables in the library,” Patterson said. “It was like Christmas morning. It meant so much to our ladies to see that and to have a hand in helping children who lost so much.”

In addition to many of UPES’ students losing their homes and most of their possessions in the tornado, they also lost their school. As the rebuilding process continues, the school’s pre-kindergarten through fifth grade classes are temporarily located in the former Stillman Heights Elementary School building.

“Today was amazing,” junior All-American Ashley Sledge said. “There was so much to do, and so much that was done right after the tornado hit, but there are so many in this community who are still working to overcome all the damage, and everything that was lost. Today is a great example of how people can continue to make a difference in the recovery effort that is going to be going on for quite some time.”


(Release and Photo Courtesy UA Athletics)