KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Avery Flatford, a rising eighth-grader from Farragut Middle School, has become the first person to win the Team Boomer Athlete of the Year.
Avery Flatford received 80,199 votes from members of the community for the award, which is given by the Boomer Esiason Foundation to encourage people with cystic fibrosis to incorporate exercise into their everyday lives. Avery says she hopes to inspire others by becoming the first college pitcher with the disease.
“Having CF has taught me to be mentally tough as well as a leader when battling adversity,” said Avery in an interview with WATE 6 On Your Side. “This team Boomer competition will help me get my story out and inspire others by them reading or just even seeing it on the news.”
Michaela Johnson, President of Team Boomer, said Avery and a guest will fly to New York City in the Spring to participate in a race in Central Park where she will be a guest of honor.
“We’re really excited to recognize and highlight her, hopefully, she’ll be an inspiration to other softball players and athletes,” said Johnson. “I think she is the perfect role model because she keeps herself so fit and active.”
Johnson said when people with cystic fibrosis exercise it clears their lungs out so they can breathe. However, she says a lot of people with cystic fibrosis do not realize the importance of exercise. She hopes Avery will help encourage others of the importance and benefits of pursuing a sport you love.
Chuck Flatford, Avery’s father said his family would like to thank the community for their tremendous support. He said the Flatford family is very grateful.
“This award goes to each and every one of you who cast a vote to support her but more importantly bring awareness to Cystic Fibrosis and the 30,000 living with this disease,” said Chuck Flatford. “We give all praise to God for his guidance not only the past three weeks but the last 13 years.”
Everyone from Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett to Vol For Life Josh Dobbs got behind the movement to help Avery win athlete of the year. Avery even threw out the first pitch at Smokies Stadium in order to encourage others to not only get out and vote, but get out and play ball.
“To be the first Tennessean ever acknowledged by the Boomer Esiasen Foundation, to be the first softball player, it was an honor in itself and she’ll never have that taken away from her. She’s just a great ambassador for those with cystic fibrosis to live a healthy and fulfilling life and strive to achieve your goals each and every day,” said Chuck Flatford.