Gymnastics coach speaks about life of 9-year-old Pine Hills shooting victim and upcoming fundraiser
ORLANDO, Fla. - The support for 24-year-old Dylan Lyons and 9-year-old T’yonna Major continues after the violence last week. Now T’yonna’s gymnastic studio is doing what it can to help her family by holding an open gym fundraiser.
Orlando Metro Gymnastics along LB McLeod Rd meant the world to T’yonna. She loved her team, she loved her coach and she loved coming to the gym. She was set on competing in college and her coach Donna Alexin believes she had a real shot to do it. Now instead they wonder what could have been.
"I was just like No. No, no, no. There’s no way that happened," said Alexin.
Alexin never thought that T’yonna wouldn’t be at practice. There was no way her life would be taken so tragically and no way would she’d ever think about getting a phone call from T’yonna’s father about her death.
"He told me, ‘Coach, you would’ve been really proud,’" said Alexin. "She fought on the ground. She fought in the ambulance. She fought in the hospital, and then she fought on the operating room table. She was just too damaged."
Investigators say T’yonna was getting ready for gymnastics class when they believe Keith Moses, 19, entered her home on Harrington Drive in Pine Hills.
Those close to T’yonna say her mother tried shielding her from the bullets but T’yonna was struck at least twice. She’d die from her injuries two hours later.
"If it had been 45 minutes earlier that he came through their back door, she would’ve been at school. If it was 45 minutes later she would’ve been in the truck with her dad coming to the gym," said Alexin.
The gym hasn’t been the same without her. Her teammates were broken by the news.
"One little girl spoke up and said oh Coach Donna I just wanted to have her one more day. Just one more day," said Alexin.
Orlando Metro Gymnastics plans to hold an open gym fundraiser to help T’yonna’s family at all four of their locations Friday. They hope it’s the start of carrying on her legacy until they all meet again.
"I feel like little T will be at the gates of heaven saying come on woman let’s go teach these angels how to do backflips. That’s what I hope for," said Alexin.
During Monday night’s practice, T’yonna’s team wrote messages on a balloon that they released in hopes of sending their messages to heaven. They say they now feel special knowing they have an angel on their side.
Orlando Metro Gymnastics has gyms in Avalon Park, Baldwin Park, Lake Mary, and on LB McLeod in Orlando. Open gym hours are from 11 am to Noon for children 4 and under. Then 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm for kids 4 and up. They are asking for a $20 donation that will go directly to T’yonna’s family to participate.