Simone Biles made it from the foster care system to become an Olympic gold medalist, and now she wants to help other foster kids live their best lives.
Biles, the 19-year-old gymnast who won four gold medals and one bronze at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, was adopted by her maternal grandparents, Ron and Nellie Biles, after her biological mother Shanon struggled with drug and alcohol addiction. She now refers to her adoptive parents as "mom and dad."
Now, Biles is teaming up with Mattress Firm Foster Kids, a program that works to donate over 600,000 necessities to foster children and their family. In an interview with PEOPLE, the gymnast explained why making sure foster kids received adequate clothing and school supplies was such an important cause for her.
Biles recalled seeing foster children around her without the necessary clothes and supplies needed.
"I was so young, I didn't quite understand what was going on," Biles told PEOPLE. "But I recall some of the kids coming to the foster home with only the clothes on their back and a backpack."
The famous athlete hasn't forgotten the difficulties that come along with being immersed in the foster care system.
"It was difficult," she recalled. "It's hard going into the system with hardly anything, because even though foster parents may receive a stipend, sometimes it's not enough to cover all the necessities."
For Biles, teaming up with Mattress Firm Foster Kids, which works with 115 nonprofit partners across 40 states to throw annual drives that provide resources to foster kids is something that is near to her heart.
"This is such a personal cause for me, because I know firsthand what it's like to be in foster care — struggles and all," she said.
This isn't the first time Biles has spoken about positively influencing kids. Last year, she spoke about sharing her Catholic faith with kids who may be looking up to her.
"Kids today talk about faith, and I think it's OK for me to share my faith so kids can see how it helps you through the whole process. I wanted to talk about family, competition and things like downfalls and injuries so that kids can understand that I go through those things, too," the Olympic gold medal winning gymnast told the Houston Chronicle last year.
Last November, Biles released her book Courage to Soar, where she let people know just how much her faith impacted her career.
"Through years of hard work and determination, she has relied on her faith and family to stay focused and positive, while having fun competing at the highest level and doing what she loves," a description of the book states. "Here, in her own words, Simone takes you through the events, challenges, and trials that carried her from an early childhood in foster care to a coveted spot on the 2016 Olympic team. Along the way, Simone shares the details of her inspiring personal story—one filled with the kinds of daily acts of courage that led her, and can lead you, to even the most unlikely of dreams."