Imagine opening a Christmas present and being left speechless by the contents inside. That's exactly what happened to Glen and Kris Heims in December.

The Swisher couple are the parents of Jessica Heims, a University of Northern Iowa track and field athlete who is preparing to compete as a member of the United States' Paralympic team later this year.

Heims is the world record-holder in the F64 discus classification. She established the mark with a throw of 35.52 meters at the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Alumni Classic in May of 2019.

Her performance that spring marked the second time in less than a month that Heims had the longest throw in the world. She first recorded an international record of 32.19 meters in the F64 discus in April 2019 while competing at the University of Iowa's Musco Twilight meet in Iowa City (see video below).

In the wake of a global pandemic, Heims was not able to compete in any events last year. However, the lack of competition hasn't stopped her preparation for the delayed games in Japan.

Heims will compete with the Panthers during their outdoor track and field season this spring before heading to the U.S. Paralympic Trials in Minneapolis June 17-20. The Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 are scheduled to run from Aug. 24-Sept. 5, 2021.

Being a world-class athlete isn't cheap, especially when specialized prosthetics are involved. There's also the cost of traveling halfway around the globe for the event.

While Heims' travel will be covered by the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee, her family would have to pay out of pocket to attend the event. Enter Dan Deery, the owner of a Cedar Falls auto dealership who gave the present that Jessica's parents unwrapped.

According to UNI athletic officials, Deery stepped up to take the burden off of Jessica's family. He provided the financial gift that will allow Glen and Kris to travel to Tokyo and for the upkeep on Jessica's prosthetics.

"It means the world to me that the local community is there to support me and my family on my journey," Jessica said in a press release. "It takes a whole village to prepare for this. It isn't just the athlete, it takes a family, a group of coaches and a whole community. It is awesome to have everyone rallying to support me."

A video posted on Heims' Twitter account shows her parents opening the Christmas package, which included a letter from Deery and a check to pay for the expenses.

Receiving the present must have been like winning the lottery. Hopefully, Jessica will have the same feeling on the World's stage later this year.

 



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UNI's Jessica Heims - A World Record Holder