Atlanta thrilled over visit from Olympics star

By Kalin Thomas Contributing Writer | 3/15/2013, noon
You might call it, “Gabby fever.”
Olympics star Gabrielle "Gabby" Douglas.

ATLANTA – You might call it, “Gabby fever.”

Much of black Atlanta is abuzz over recent news that gymnastics superstar and two-time Olympics gold medalist Gabrielle “Gabby” Douglas will sign copies of her book, “Grace, Gold & Glory: My Leap of Faith” at the Shrine of the Black Madonna Bookstore in Atlanta next week.

And it seems people can hardly contain themselves.

Dr. Felicia Roberts, who runs the Teen Angels Society for girls 7 to 17, said her 13- to 15-year-old girls can’t stop talking about Gabby’s visit.

“They are really excited because they look up to her as a role model,” Roberts said of her students. “She carries herself in a dignified way with poise and grace, which is what I try to teach my girls.

“Many of our young girls are exposed to so many negative black women in their neighborhoods or on Reality TV that it’s important for them to see someone like Gabby and know that their surroundings don’t dictate their future,” Roberts added.

Douglas, now 17, wowed much of black America – and the world – last year with her gold medal-winning performances at the Summer Olympics in London. Since then, she’s become a media and marketing sensation, appearing on Corn Flakes boxes, co-hosting “America’s Got Talent,” appearing with First Lady Michelle Obama on “The Tonight Show,” and recently releasing her own brand of leotards.

Since last week’s announcement that Douglas was coming to Atlanta, employees at the Shrine bookstore in the West End have been uber-busy, fielding queries from people wanting to get a seat at the book signing, scheduled for at 6 p.m. March 22.

“People are calling and blowing up our email,” said the store’s director, Ewa Ife Omo Oba. “It’s big news for Atlanta and the West End community and we are over-the-moon ecstatic about it.”

Oba expects there will be a full house waiting to enter the bookstore when the doors open at 5:15 p.m.

“We’ve had an overwhelming response. We already sold out of the first batch of books and getting more books in today,” she said. “We’re hoping to break the attendance record for books sold.”

Oba said Shrine officials are thrilled that Douglas chose their location for her very first visit to Atlanta.

“She was number one on our wish list. And our reputation as one of the leading black-owned bookstores in the country is why we believe she chose us,” Oba said.

And Oba said the Atlanta community plans to give Douglas a welcome she’ll never forget.

“We want her to know that she brings a lot of pride to our community,” Oba said. “She’s everybody’s sister, daughter, sibling, niece – she has a place in everybody’s heart.”

For more information about the event, call 678-744-6125.