In January 2015 it was estimated that approximately 564,708 people were homeless in the United States on any given night. The Sheppard Sisters, a trio of three young inspiring athletes, can be counted amongst those individuals. Living in a shelter in Bushwick, Brooklyn, these three girls are on their way to achieving greatness in the Junior Olympics.
Brooke, Rainn, and Tai Sheppard are being raised by their mother, Tonia Handy, who works as a phone operator for a car service. In a gut-wrenching but hopeful report from the AP, Handy explains how track and field became a motivator for her girls and a possible way for them to achieve a better future: "This is a means to get them to college," she says, "to opening doors that maybe I can't open for them."
From the AP: The girls "got into track in January 2015 when their babysitter, looking for some kind of activity to keep them occupied, signed them up for a track meet that did not require any entry fees."
The trio were scouted seperately on their first day of practice by Brooklyn-based Jeuness Track Club, with the recruiter only later realizing they were related. Each girl has already qualified for the Junior Olympics in different events.
Heartbreakingly, their mother can't attend the competitions with them: "I'm not going because the shelter has a curfew and I still have to work," she said. "It's not that kind of job where you can take time off. You don't go, you don't get paid."
Nonetheless, Handy has big dreams for her little girls: “They’re about to tear that up ... I’m telling you, when these girls hit the big stage, they show off. They do not back down.”
You can help the Sheppards pay for their travel expenses by donating to their GoFundMe page.