San Diego to Tokyo

Jumping And Inspiring: Chula Vista Paralympian Excels At Both

Paralympic long jumper Lex Gillette is motivating kids through "Heart Of A Champion", a new learning series in partnership with NBC Olympics

NBC Universal, Inc.

You'd be hard-pressed to find a more inspiring individual than Team USA Track & Field star Lex Gillette, who is preparing for his fifth straight Paralympics while at the same time motivating kids to embrace “feedback” from mentors.

Gillette has four Paralympic silver medals in the long jump and is the only blind jumper to eclipse the 22-foot barrier thanks to his world record jump of 22 feet 2 inches.

Perhaps the only thing more impressive than Gillette’s athletic achievement is his dedication to helping others push past their personal limits.

Gillette is one of 10 top Team USA athletes talking to kids through a new learning series in partnership with NBC Olympics on the popular grade school communication platform, Class Dojo.

In the "Heart of A Champion" series, Gillette and his Olympic/Paralympic teammates share different lessons on themes like courage, perseverance and focus.

“These are lessons we use as athletes and ultimately as human beings and all of those things help us,” Gillette said.

From mountain biking to karate, Olympians lay out what they love about their sport. “I just go through the movements and that helps me express myself.”

Gillette’s lesson focuses on feedback.

As a blind jumper, Gillette relies on the voice and clapping from a guide who stands at the long jump launch board as he competes. So, feedback plays a particularly important role in his life.

Gillette was just 8 years old when he started suffering from retinal detachment.
Despite many surgeries, he eventually lost his sight.

"After I had lost my sight, I was just thrust into a whole new world and literally trying to figure everything out from how to achieve day-to-day tasks, how to finish homework and classwork," Gillette said.

He wants kids to know how important feedback is to getting better, whether it’s in sports or school. Without feedback from his guide and coaches, Gillette says he wouldn’t be able to accomplish the things that have helped propel him to greatness in his sport.

The “Heart Of A Champion” series is available for free on Class Dojo.

Listen/Subscribe to NBC 7’s Olympic Dreams: San Diego to Tokyo podcast wherever you enjoy listening to podcasts. On each episode, NBC 7 News Today anchor Steven Luke will sit down with athletes in their prime, each with their sights set on one thing: representing Team USA in Tokyo this summer. How will they achieve their Olympic dreams?

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