SIOUX FALLS, S.D (KELO) — A Sioux Falls family is working to honor the life of their young daughter who recently passed away.
Jim and Jodi Welch say their 12-year-old daughter, Briella, had strong faith in God and strong love for her friends and family.
Briella also had a passion for gymnastics. When her family moved to Sioux Falls two years ago, she found a new community at the Wings Academy.
“Wings was her second family. They meant so much to her. I think really gymnastics was her therapy, her way to get through moving,” Jodi said.
“As she really got into the wings family there, she started really loving gymnastics. She really started working hard on that. That’s when we saw her, not just her love for God, but her love for people and her determination,” said Jim Welch, father.
The Welch’s say it was gymnastics, family and faith that kept Briella strong when she was diagnosed with DIPG, an inoperable brain tumor, in November of 2022.
“My wife and I looked at each other and said, eternity is way longer than we have here on Earth. So we’ll make whatever we can of her last days here,” Jim said.
Briella spent her last months competing in meets, like this one and spending time with her family.
“We had a really, really good three months with her, spent a lot of time with her, and we thank God that we were able to focus on her and really spend time with her,” Jim said.
Briella passed away on February 6th. Her family says she was always making and giving gifts to others, so through their grief her family is also giving to others in honor of Briella.
“We looked at that and said, it would be really good to carry out that story through a foundation where we could raise money and have that money used towards scholarships for other gymnasts,” Vince Welch, uncle and board member, said.
“We just want to give back to the gymnastics community because I know Briella would want it and they have meant so much to us through this journey they have supported us in amazing ways,” Jodi said.
The Briella’s Story Foundation will tell her journey with gymnastics, art, faith and family while providing others with the same opportunities she had.
“I know that she wanted to be able to keep giving back and so this is a way to take her story, and all that she’s been given and continue the giving, you know, despite her not being here anymore, because that’s what she would want,” Sharif Welch, aunt, said.
Wings Academy will have an annual gymnastics meet that honors Briella in collaboration with the Foundation. If you would like to contribute to the Foundation, you can find a link to donate here.