• Yana Sanakina, Olga Solovyeva

Liliya Downs "With your lovely family every moment is priceless"


Liliya Downs was born in Chernigov, Ukraine.

Her parents Svetlana Esipova and Alexander Krot worked as engineers, and started their own newspaper, which supported the family for many years.

At four years of age, Lily was admitted to the rhythmic gymnastics studio at a new school under the direction of Yulia Petrovna Borisko.

Lilia was engaged in gymnastics until she graduated from the high school, having achieved the title of the candidate for Master of Sports (level 9/10 in the USA). That young girl, in love with gymnastics, could never imagine that she would one day become a coach and owner of her own sports school. She had no idea of how gymnastics would change her life. The childhood of young Liliya consisted of united team, friendship in the sports team, and demanding coaches who were practically her second parents. “Rhythmic gymnastics - is a terrific sport!

- Liliya says to her students: "In my opinion it is the most beautiful sport for girls, harmoniously combining the best of ballet, dance, gymnastics and acrobatics!"

After graduating from school Liliya entered the Kiev National University of Physical Education and Sports Department of Healthy Lifestyle and Fitness. During her studies at the university she was engaged in ballroom and modern dance, and in the third year was selected to the National Cheerleading Team of Ukraine.

After that, she performed in jazz groups performing at the World and Ukraine National championships. At the 2011 World Cup in Orlando, Florida, her team took sixth place out of the ninety-seven countries represented. Simultaneously, they placed first in solo and double performances.

Note to readers, the team of Ukraine - is one of the strongest cheer-leading teams in the world and Liliya’s team always won medals at the championships of the countries, Europe and the world. Liliya successfully graduated from the University, received a bachelor's degree, and then, together with her mother went to conquer America. America has always been Liliya 's dream, as a little girl she believed that she would raise her children and live her whole life there. She learned English surprisingly easy and during the first year in the USA she became fluent in it. Her family made a choice between living in New York or Los Angeles, and they took advice of friends and moved to New York. It was very difficult at the beginning. Financial difficulties and her mother’s lack of English language skills, along with a lack of life experience of the young Liliya, prevented them from achieving stability. It was then that Liliya began to work as a private coach for stretching dancers and other athletes, and soon became a rhythmic gymnastics coach.

- When did you realize that you want to devote your life to gymnastics? - I asked.

- That's when I fell in love with this sport for real. I felt that it was a great pleasure training my children, so I decided to open my own school. It happened in New Jersey. Then I was pregnant with my first baby.

- Please tell us a little how personal life evolved.

- During the first year of my stay in America, providence gave me a meeting with the man of my dreams. Usually all girls dream to meet their second half having at least some good qualities. My case is unique. I got a man with all the qualities and virtues I dreamed of!

- And how did it happen?

- Despite the significant difference in age, our love started at first sight. I always liked men older than me. My husband James Downs is a real father - hero, he has lovely daughters Jenna, Jesse and son Jimmy, whom I love, and who have become my loyal friends. Our joint daughters Alexandra and Siena are our love story.

- What does your husband do?

- My husband is one of the best builders of the country, he owns the company The Downs Group, that built the famous Trump Bedminster National Golf Club, which is a favorite vacation spot of the president's family.

- How did you become engaged?

- He made an extraordinary, romantic proposal, just like in Hollywood movies.It all started with the fact that I was expecting an engagement ring for my birthday, which we celebrated in one of America's best restaurants, across from Central Park in New York. I received expensive gifts, flowers and greetings, then after dinner, for dessert a chocolate box was brought. I was 100% sure it was my ring, but it wasn't there. I got very upset and after a while told James that I had a headache and I wanted to sleep. We went to the room and, without talking, lay down to sleep. The next day he offered me a walk in Central Park. During the walk a light rain started, it was very romantic. In the park, near the lake we rented a boat. On the very middle of the lake with a totally stunning view of New York, beautiful bridges and beautiful nature, we stopped to take a photo. It was the fourth of July, the Independence Day of America, a very significant holiday in the US. James asked me to take a video of all the surrounding beauty. There he was, with the words: "Today is Independence Day and I would like to ask you," What do you think about not being independent anymore? Marry me!", when he got up on the boat, he took out the ring from his pocket, and I reached out with the words " I agree! ", the boat shaken, and the ring fell into the lake... You cannot imagine what I felt at that moment! But after a couple of minutes, James handed me a real ring with the words, "What do you think if I give you a real ring now?" It was an unforgettable prank-proposal! We got married in just a couple of months, in October, in the same Central Park. Then I was pregnant with my first daughter named after my father Alexander.

- The firstborn is always a great joy for the family.

- Yes, certainly. Alexandra was born healthy and was an incredibly beautiful baby. She was the best girl, with good character, very kind, generous, she loved to sing and dance. When she was 26 months old, and we already had the second daughter Siena, who was already eight months old. For her second birthday we gave Alexandra a dog she dreamed of. She started to attend a local preschool and began to make her first friends. Then the most terrible tragedy of our whole life happened. On February 24th, 2017, Alexandra, my angel left us, she fell asleep and never woke up.

- What happened???

- It was about 7am on Friday. I went to walk the dog, and then came over to Alexandra in her room, where I found her dead. The earth has gone under my feet, the life of all family has stopped...

- Is it possible to survive such grief? I'm afraid even to ask.

- It is impossible to imagine to those who did not lose a child. I do not wish this to anyone. We have accepted the grief with which we still live, falling asleep and waking up. We learned the pain that does not go away, and with which we live all our lives. We are grateful to God that our youngest daughter was very small, and this tragedy did not hurt her, because she does not remember it.

- Did something precede the incident?

- Alexandra was an extremely healthy girl and the exact cause of her death has not yet been established. Doctors were looking for an answer for a long time and concluded that she just stopped breathing during her sleep. We were told that there is a department in the brain of every person who at the micro level is responsible for breathing during sleep and that this department did not function properly in our daughter.

- Why aren’t all parents warned about it and how they can prevent the death of a child during the sleep?

- Our youngest daughter Siena, which will turn two in June, does not go to sleep without a heart monitor, which reports to us of her pulse and the level of Oxygen.

- This is a very rare case, but I can understand you.

- The knowledge that we have our sunshine Siena helps us to move forward. She is a gift sent by God. If it weren't for her that day, we wouldn't have survived the death of our daughter.

- How did this grief affect your career?

- I closed my school of gymnastics, could not cope with myself, there was no strength and desire.

- How did parents and students react to this?

- Frankly speaking, the people I worked with acted horrid. During the funeral, the parents of some of my students asked the coaches working with me when I would return them the money paid for the classes and expressed their dissatisfaction in general.

- Is it possible?

- Alas... But there were parents who supported us in a difficult moment and still very actively participate in our lives. One of my best female students came to me and said, "Take my baby and train at home if it helps you cope with happened. And you know, it really helped! It is an extraordinary pleasure for me to train children. It helps me to live despite what happened. At that moment, rhythmic gymnastics became just a necessary part of my life.

- Favorite work helps people around the world combat depression.

- Yes, it does. I soon reopened the school of Rhythmic Gymnastics in different location and now I have incredibly talented students and families who have become friends to each other, you can say one friendly family. Our children have successfully completed the competition season during their first year of training. Apart from the fact that I am working on my business development, my main goal is the health, well-being and education of Siena. At the end of this year I plan to start taking my baby with me to classes.

- Will she help mom?

- Yes, of course! She is very much ahead in the development of children of her age. She speaks sentences already, understands two languages English and Russian, eats with fork and spoon. She can even climbed to the top of the Swedish wall. She’s an incredibly energetic girl! Our pride and future Olympic Champion is growing. I believe in her wholeheartedly! At the end of this year, the day when Alexandra would turn four, the famous producer Ray Chew and his wife Vivian Chew (producers of American Idol, Dancing with the stars, etc.) are organizing a charity concert in honor of our late daughter, to be held in Carnegie Hall on December 15, 2018. The whole orchestra will be named after Alexandra and the concert will be performed by many celebrities. We are very grateful to them for this, and we will celebrate the short, but so important to us and the whole world life of Alexandra.

- How did the state support you?

- I was struck by the fact that during the tragedy the whole community of our city Mendham and Boroughs for 6 months brought dinners and gift cards without return names or any contact information and left them at the doors of our house. People even created a menu on the internet where our family could see exactly what we could expect to get each evening.It's just something incredible! We are eternally grateful to all the good people who responded and supported us in those difficult times.

- Yes, it is very important to every person when they are in distress.

- You are a strong woman, Liliya, a beautiful mother, a wonderful teacher. Thank you for sharing your story with us. I wish your family would be surrounded by blessings and success and your home to be full of children’s laughter, happiness and love. Live happily ever after! P.S. today Liliya teaches rhythmic gymnastics, group and private classes of stretching and pumping for dancers and skaters. This year, she had more than 200 students, and new children are joining constantly. Liliya loves her business, continuously improving it. Among her students there are many famous dancers, including Rachel Quiner, who being only 12 years old, already starred in the movie "The Greatest Showman" in the role of one of the Ballerina, and also played Clara three times in the famous "Nutcracker" at Radio City Music Hall.

- Your wishes to our readers Lilya.

- Spend a lot of time with your lovely family because every moment is priceless.

- What can you say at the end of such an interview? As a mother, as a woman and as a businesswoman, finishing this story with tears in her eyes, saying: "Thank you, Liliya, a low bow to you and God to bring you the strength and health to achieve all the goals that you set! We believe in you! "

#LiliyaDowns #gymnastic #theNationalCheerleadingTeamofUkraine #NewYork #JamesDowns #TrumpBedminsterNationalGolfClub #aheartmonitor #RhythmicGymnastic #RachelQuiner #RadioCityMusicHall

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