Aly Raisman has won the affection of the nation with her gold medal performances over the years, but it’s what she’s doing off the mats that truly makes her America’s sweetheart.
The Olympian and Needham native is teaming up with e-commerce bedding brand Leesa to donate 165 custom-made mattresses to Heading Home, a Boston-based homeless shelter. The donations will be delivered during an event at the organization in Dorchester on July 18, where Raisman will speak alongside Leesa CEO David Wolfe as well as board co-chairs and residents from Heading Home.
Considering her roots in the Boston area, the cause is pretty close to the 23-year-old gymnast’s heart. Massachusetts has more than 4,000 homeless families, with the average age of a homeless person in the Bay State being only 8-years-old.
Founded in 1974, Heading Home has worked for decades to help end homelessness in the state. The organization’s permanent housing program has been a huge boost to the community, as more than 90 percent of its residents remain permanently housed a year later.
Since taking the world by storm with her Olympic runs, Raisman has used her platform to give back in a variety of ways. She’s been a big supporter of the organization Uniting Against Lung Cancer due to the toll the disease took on her grandmother.
Last year, Raisman also donated $10,000 to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in honor of her late family member.
“I know my grandmother—I called her Bubbe—would be very proud,” she said at the 2016 presentation. “I know she’s watching us, so I know this means the world to her. I wouldn’t be where I am without all of her love and support.”
In addition to giving back, the gymnastics star has also used her fame to speak out on issues ranging from body shaming to celebrating female empowerment. Raisman also has a book in the works and may be gearing up for another attempt at Olympic gold, so don’t expect her to slow down anytime soon.