Gabi Ury of Boulder, Colorado had it rough from the very beginning.
She was born with VATER Syndrome, a condition that causes a cluster of birth defects in the vertebrae, anus, trachea, esophagus and kidneys. Since birth, Ury has endured 14 surgeries to correct the effects of the syndrome, which left her with missing vertebrae and calf muscles. But her peppy spirit has remained intact despite all the time she’s spent in the hospital, and when she turned 16 on April 17, she wanted to give herself an incredible birthday present by attempting to break the Guinness World Record for the longest-held plank by a female.
Gabi has tried to break records before by constructing the longest hopscotch course and trying to put the most-ever socks on one foot. She fell short both times, but then she figured out she was a plank prodigy during tryouts for the volleyball at the Dawson School in Lafayette. She couldn’t run a mile with the other volleyball hopefuls, so volleyball coach Holly Novak suggested she spend the time performing an equally grueling exercise: planking, in which a person assumes a push-up position and holds it while resting on the forearms. The first time she tried, Gabi held a plank for 12 minutes. “I was astonished the first time she did it,” Novak told Kate Gibson of the Denver Post. “I have to give all the credit to Gabi on this. I have supplied some workouts, but she has really gone after the record.”
Twelve minutes was only the beginning for Gabi. She began practicing holding a plank for 40 minutes or more. “Boredom is a problem and distraction helps a lot,” Gabi told Gibson. She planks while watching ‘Grey’s Anatomy,’ reading a book, and enjoying the company of her dog. She was aiming to break the record for a 40 minute, 1 second plank held by Boise’s Eva Bulzomi, and to raise money for Children’s Hospital Colorado while doing so.
Gabi made her attempt on April 19 at the East Boulder Rec center, and as you can see in this video, she held the plank for an incredible one hour and 20 minutes. Now she just needs to wait for the people at Guinness to verify her accomplishment. In the process, she has raised more than $17,000 for Children’s Hospital. Now that’s what we call a sweet sixteen year old.