Minnesota State Champion Gymnast’s Family Gets COVID, Community Rally Around Them


Parents of star gymnast Azia Hawkins have both been hospitalized with COVID-19 for weeks. Now her gym is raising thousands of dollars to help pay hospital bills.

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. – Azia Hawkins rarely stays seated. The 14-year-old does cartwheels and handstand in her front yard in Bloomington and wins first place trophies in gymnastics competitions across the United States.

His father, former basketball player Larry Hawkins, and mother Suzanne Hawkins are also always on the move. The two call Azia’s Gymnasium – IGM Gymnastics – their “second home”. Every day they help out in the gym: play music during rehearsals; painting and renovation; and giving of their time.

“I just love to see happy girls, you know, doing what they do in terms of the floor exercises, the bars, the beams,” Larry said. “I said if I was going to support (gym owner Irina), I would support her 100%.”

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Then, in August, the busy family stopped. Suzanne first, then her husband Larry and daughter Azia contracted COVID-19. As Azia recovered quickly, Suzanne and Larry were hospitalized for weeks.

“I didn’t realize that it takes lungs to do everything in life. Because even going up the stairs at the beginning, it took me a long time,” said Larry. “I was looking for air and I just (felt) my whole world was falling on me. So I had an emotional breakdown. And I started to cry.”

Azia remembers being very scared.

“When he cries, it’s normally because he’s happy about something, like a cry of joy,” Azia said. “I’ve never seen him cry like that.

Larry, the family’s sole caregiver, said he was unsure how he would pay his medical bills. Soon the IGM Gymnastics community rallied around them, creating a GoFundMe which by Friday raised over $ 3,000.

To support the Hawkins family, visit this link.

“We are very grateful to all the families,” said Suzanne. “I was not expecting GoFundMe, and I am very grateful to everyone.”

The Hawkins family would also like to express their gratitude to their doctors as well as Larry’s workplace where the staff have been so supportive and understanding.

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