LISA WERNER: She doesn’t think she is different and she probably has as high a self-esteem of anyone you would ever meet. So I really don’t see that she sees that as an issue at all. INTERVIEWER: And how old are you, Chelsea? RAY WERNER: When she was five or six, we tried soccer and that didn’t work too well and she kept finding trees to sit in the shade. And, so then we tried a real basic, little gymnastic program and she seemed to like it a lot and tried. LISA WERNER: Once she started with a coach that really treated her like other gymnasts and she put in the hours, she started improving really rapidly and every step of the way we were shocked and we just never knew she would take it to the level she has. RAY WERNER: Down Syndrome is, there’s 23 pairs of chromosomes and the 21st grouping has 3 instead of, instead of 2 and so it causes various physical and mental, you know, disabilities. You know, fortunately when Chelsea was born she didn’t have any of the physical disabilities other than the doctors told her she would have low muscle tone and may not be able to do much in the way of athletics and, so that’s been proven wrong. The initial practices were quite funny because other parents would be horrified that the coach is actually yelling at an athlete with Down Syndrome and I would sit there and just start laughing, ‘Go on, good, get her. Treat her like anybody else.’ CASEY HALL: I have been training Chelsea for two and a half years now. CASEY HALL: She trains like everybody else. She competes just like everybody else. I think Chelsea has gotten this far in gymnastics because she doesn’t give up. She goes back, she works hard, she will do something over and over and over just as you ask of her. CASEY HALL: Her strengths are her floor skills, she loves to perform, she loves to tumble and bars. So when we get her to do her full routine, her bars are pretty strong. LISA WERNER: A skill that would normally take a gymnast a year, would take Chelsea a couple of years. RAY WERNER: She has that good athlete quality that when you fail, you have a short memory and you just move on to the next thing. RAY WERNER: That work ethic and that discipline is you know, integrated through her whole life now, which has been great. CASEY HALL: Good practice! LISA WERNER: We are going to show you some of Chelsea’s trophies. They are all, well most of the bigger ones are up here. LISA WERNER: So Chelsea, which one is your favourite trophy? CHELSEA WERNER: That one!
LISA WERNER: This one is always her favourite trophy. Where did you win this one? CHELSEA WERNER: Italy!
LISA WERNER: Italy! And was this for your world championship? CHELSEA WERNER: Oh! Yeah! LISA WERNER: When Chelsea started training with USA Gymnastics, she just started getting so much better than the other athletes in special championships. So, that’s your first world championship and this is your second. RAY WERNER: She pretty quickly was the best in Northern California and then they started having a national meet in Atlanta, Georgia for the entire United States and so we flew there ourselves for four straight years and she won the title four years in a row. INTERVIEWER: A thousand? LISA WERNER: You like that picture?
CHELSEA WERNER: Yeah. LISA WERNER: How does it make you feel?
CHELSEA WERNER: Happy. LISA WERNER: How else?
CHELSEA WERNER: And proud. LISA WERNER: She has two brothers. They were eight and ten when she was born. LISA WERNER: We actually did not know Chelsea was going to have Down Syndrome. When she was born, the doctor said something wasn’t right and he thought that she had Down syndrome. So that was the first we heard of that. So we were kind of shocked. LISA WERNER: And somebody told me you are going to get a new floor routine. So have you picked your new music yet for your new floor routine? CHELSEA WERNER: Yeah.
LISA WERNER: So what’s the song going to be? LISA WERNER: Well, I thought you were going to do – This Is Me? CHELSEA WERNER: Oh yeah, oops.
LISA WERNER: Did you change your mind again? CHELSEA WERNER: Yeah.
LISA WERNER: I heard you changed your mind again. RAY WERNER: What’s the song?
LISA WERNER: That’s from the movie ‘The Showman’. The song is ‘This Is Me’. RAY WERNER: Oh, you and the showman. RAY WERNER: We have tried to treat her as normal as possible and have the same you know, drive and expectations as our sons and that seems to have worked. RAY WERNER: Good?
CHELSEA WERNER: Oh yeah. LISA WERNER: Chelsea first got into modelling when we got an email from a clothing line that asked if Chelsea wanted to do a campaign for them and it turned out it was H&M. They asked if Chelsea would be willing to fly to Havana, Cuba which we thought would be great. It turned out to be a wonderful fun experience. And after that we got back and we were, Chelsea was invited to walk at New York Fashion Week shortly after that. So that kind of started the whole modelling world for us. LISA WERNER: Ready for the runway?
CHELSEA WERNER: Yeah.
LISA WERNER: You got it. CHRISTINA FULLMER: Hi, how are you?
CHELSEA WERNER: Hi. CHRISTINA FULLMER: Good to see you.
LISA WERNER: She is excited. CHRISTINA FULLMER: We at Myra Leana chose Chelsea because she is a perfect example of a woman who is born with a challenge everyday of her life and instead of succumbing to those challenges she overcame with hard work, dedication. CHRISTINA FULLMER: I don’t think it’s a gimmick to have somebody with disabilities on the catwalk at all, especially somebody like Chelsea who just, she just brings it. If you were to see this girl at rehearsals, you see kind of the other models kind of checking in on each other like, ‘How am I doing? How am in comparison with that model?’ And Chelsea doesn’t have it at all. She just goes out there and she is fearless. I think we all have a lot to learn from somebody like Chelsea. RAY WERNER: She broke the barriers in gymnastics and I think she can do it in the modelling world too. CASEY HALL: She is a great asset to our team. She has worked well with all the girls and has taught us all a lot.