Sisters Brooke, Rainn, and Tai Sheppard are on their way to track stardom. The sibling trio, who live with their mother, Tonia Handy, in a homeless shelter in Brooklyn, NY, have managed to qualify for the 2016 Junior Olympics, despite facing great hardship over the past year.
According to the AP,
She always managed to make ends meet, though, until early last year, when she and the girls were evicted from their apartment in Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant section for failing to pay the rent, landing them first in a motel shelter in Queens and then in the apartment shelter on a gritty Bed-Stuy street.
“The first time we got there, there was just roaches everywhere,” Tai says. “Every time I looked on the floor, a roach. And every time I looked on the ceiling there was a roach. It was horrible.”
Brooke, Rainn, and Tai started track last year, with the help of a babysitter, who wanted to find them an activity that didn’t require any fees. The Sheppard sisters were soon picked up by the Jeuness Track Club, a group that preps and trains promising young athletes for major competitions, and helps them with obtaining college scholarships. The girls were recruited individually and the founder of the club was initially unaware that they were even related.
After qualifying for multiple events, the sisters headed to Houston, Texas on Sunday to compete. But their mother was unable to accompany them, due to the shelter’s curfew policy and her work schedule. Handy hopes to attend next year.
Handy also started a GoFundMe page to help support the girls’ travel and equipment expenses. The donation period has ended, but several supporters have reached out to her, in hopes that the fundraising window can be extended.