Just beyond the breaking ocean waves, two inspirational female athletes are breaking boundaries — and owning their stories. In fact, toughness and desire are taking the narrative to new heights with these two SoCal changemakers.
You can find these impressive and talented SoCal athletes at the top of their respective sports and working everyday to overcome adversity. Recently, Olivia “Liv” Stone and Kaleigh Gilchrist gave their perspectives on their unique journeys and describe how they’ve empowered themselves and making waves in the community — along the way.
Who is Liv Stone?
Para Surf World Champion and Disability Advocate Liv Stone is clutch. She is proving herself as one of the best pro surfers. Liv is a congenital bilateral amputee, discovered surfing at a 2017 retreat hosted by pro surfer and shark attack survivor Bethany Hamilton. Since day one, Liv has felt natural being on the water and took to surfing quickly.
After returning from a camp with the Challenged Athletes Foundation, Liv spent her weekends training with an instructor. It was during this time that she received an incredible opportunity. “I was really engrossed with the sport, and after realizing it’s what I love, I got a call from the para surf Team USA captain [Dani Burt],” stated Stone.
Liv has taken the surfing industry by storm — rising in the ranks. “I’m blessed to be in the water every day, and I feel myself getting stronger,” stated Stone, who earned her first gold medal at the 2020 International Surfing Association World Championships and is ranked number one in her division.
“I encourage anyone, especially young girls, to conquer from within and follow their dreams. The sky’s the limit; you can do anything you set your mind to no matter what the obstacle is.”
Who is Kaleigh Gilchrist?
Kaleigh Gilchrist is the pro Newport Beach native giving new meaning to both women’s water polo and surfing. She is a 29-year-old professional surfer and 2x Olympic water polo gold medalist living in Newport Beach, CA. She is actively redefining the boundaries of world-class athleticism through her inspiring pursuit of excellence.
Gilchrist served as team captain in college before transitioning to her role as a member of Team USA and won gold on the 2016 Olympic in women’s water polo. After winning at the world championships in July 2019, Gilchrist suffered a devastating leg laceration after the South Korean balcony she was on collapsed.
“I was millimeters away from my nerves severing and never walking again,” stated Gilchrist. “I was very lucky because there were a couple of fatalities in the incident. It taught me so much about life, perspective and how quickly things can change.”
In every person’s life, and in every path to success, there are one or more periods of doubt and resistance. It might be devastating. You might feel lost. GFG wants every athlete to stay focused and never give up. Work hard. The tide will turn.