DEDHAM — A Dedham School student who has battled multiple injuries and illness in the past year was recognized for her courage Monday by an Olympic athlete in a school-wide assembly.
Sixth-grader Helaina Winslow received the Julia Clukey Courage Award from the award’s namesake, an Augusta native who has participated in the luge event for 19 years and who competed in the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia.
School officials said they selected Winslow to receive the award because of the positive attitude she has shown through numerous injuries and illnesses this year.
She broke her wrist in the fall, while she was a member of both the cross-country and soccer teams, but returned in time to help her cross-country teammates finish third in the championship meet.
Then, early in the basketball season, Winslow had knee pain and also began feeling pain in her abdomen. She was rushed to the hospital after scoring her first basket of the season and ended up having appendix surgery.
In the winter months she became quite ill with pneumonia and the flu, and this spring was diagnosed with Lyme disease. In spite of that, she is on the track team this season and is competing — and excelling — in the 50-, 100- and 200-meter dashes as well as in the hurdles.
“When you hear about what Helaina has been through and the courage she has shown to persevere with a positive attitude, it’s outstanding,” Clukey said. “I am really proud to present the award to her, she is remarkable in so many ways.”
Clukey’s presentation of the award to Winslow came after she spoke to more than 100 students at the school as part of her “Julia Inspires” campaign. Clukey spoke of her own hardships and adversity that she has overcome to be a world-class athlete, and encouraged the students to find their passion, create a plan and go after their dreams.
Clukey, 31, continues to train for luge competition. This summer, she will host Julia Clukey’s Camp for Girls at Camp KV in Readfield. She has set a goal to compete in the luge event at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Rep. Karl Ward (R-Dedham) was on-hand for the event and helped Clukey present the award to Winslow. He said Clukey’s story “showed clearly that any dream is within anyone’s reach.”
Ward said Winslow has met and overcome her challenges with a “very positive attitude and can-do spirit” and called her a “fitting recipient” of the Julia Clukey Courage Award.
“I think she is a tribute to herself, her school and her upbringing,” said Ward of Winslow.