Who are English Gardner’s parents? Pastors stood by daughter battling depression after breakup

English Gardner's parents, both pastors for 'Life-Giving Word' in Burlington, New Jersey, instilled in her the importance of faith at an early age


                            Who are English Gardner’s parents? Pastors stood by daughter battling depression after breakup
Sprinter English Gardner poses for a portrait at the 2016 Team USA Media Summit at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on March 8, 2016, in Beverly Hills, California (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

American sprinter English Gardner and her relay team comfortably qualified for the women's 4x100m heat as they sailed around the track at the Olympic Stadium on Thursday, August 5. The US women's team, including Gardner, Teahna Daniels, Aleia Hobbs, and Javianne Oliver, won second place in the relay with a time of 41.90 seconds, just behind Team Great Britain, who finished in 41.55 seconds.

"It's nothing short of a miracle that I'm here," Gardner, who was part of the relay team that won gold at Rio 2016, told reporters after the event. It's worth noting that the 29-year-old athlete almost did not make it to the Olympics due to a barrage of setbacks and challenges. However, her parents stood by her side through thick and thin.

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Who are English Gardner's parents?

Monica and Anthony Gardner are people of faith. They are said to have sacrificed all their money for their children and at some point even shared a Snickers bar for dinner when times were tough. However, holding on to their faith, the parents helped encourage their talented daughter to press on after she suffered a torn ACL during a charity flag football game.

English Gardner reacts after running in the first round of the Women's 100 Meters during the 2016 U.S. Olympic Track & Field Team Trials at Hayward Field on July 2, 2016, in Eugene, Oregon. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

English had just started high school when her mother was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer. Doctors believed she just had a few more months to live, according to Sports Illustrated. Anthony Gardner continued working to help provide for the family through the crisis, and English stepped up to help raise her two younger siblings as her mother was unable to. She would regularly wake up early to get them ready for school and even walked them to the bus stop.

The future Olympian stood by her mom through chemotherapy and cared for her when she became sick because of the radiation treatments. Fortunately, Monica defeated the disease and is now cancer-free. Both parents serve as pastors for 'Life-Giving Word' in Burlington, New Jersey. Faith is important in the Gardner family, and English has leaned on the Bible as motivation for her own life. In a conversation with the Washington Post, she spoke of how her parents had instilled in her the importance of faith at an early age. “I was taught to speak things into existence. There’s life and death in the power of your tongue. You’re the controller of your fate, and life is about choices. So I always choose to put that positive energy out there,” Gardner explained.



 

The family struggled with homelessness twice while English was growing up. The first time they were evicted was when she was just six. Her parents had reportedly put all their savings into their church and ended up losing their residence in the process. The Gardners survived due to the generosity of friends and parishioners until they got back on their feet. They were able to stay at a hotel for a few months through gifts of churchgoers and kin.

Monica and Anthony helped their daughter battle depression after she went through a breakup. She had started losing weight and struggled with anxiety, but her parents were always there to support her. According to Heavy, English would often watch Disney movies with her mother, who baked chocolate chip cookies and whipped up Frappuccinos to help her daughter gain weight. 

English Gardner of the United States competes during round one of the Women's 4 x 100m Relay Re-Run on Day 13 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on August 18, 2016, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

“This anxiety is real," Monica Gardner told Sports Illustrated of what English went through. "When you think about putting your body to that level of stress every time you get on that line, it has to take some type of toll on you physically, mentally, and emotionally. You’re raising your cortisol levels to a billion, and then it goes up and down again and up again. It takes a toll on the body. There should be more of an emphasis on sports psychology,” she added. Monica and Anthony's tireless dedication to their daughter eventually paid off as English finally made it to the Olympics.

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