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Sports Illustrated party went swimmingly

Back row from left: Christie Brinkley, West Babylon

Back row from left: Christie Brinkley, West Babylon teacher Cara Grace-Nizich, Sailor Brinkley Cook and Alexa Ray Joel, with, front, Kidsday Reporters Cameron Hovanec, Allison Gobel and Izebelle Hillebrand. Credit: Newsday / Pat Mullooly

What a night! Cameron, Ali and I got invited to a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit party at Center415 in Manhattan. We walked on the red carpet, talked with celebrities and got our picture taken with so many people. We met Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman, John Legend and his wife Chrissy Teigen, talk-show host Nick Cannon, famous models such as Ashley Graham, Kate Upton, Christie Brinkley and her daughters Alexa Ray Joel and Sailor Brinkley Cook.

Meeting Aly Raisman was the best part of Allison’s night. She was very excited to meet her because Allison does gymnastics, too. When Allison saw her, she was so nervous but happy. We all got to ask Aly questions for the interview. We found out that it was true that her teammates called her “Grandma.” She said that rest and eating well are important to her. We thought she was super nice, understanding and supporting.

When we asked her who or what kept her going in gymnastics, Aly told us she always loved gymnastics, so she just wanted to keep doing it.

We were also curious since gymnasts are in such great shape, what is her favorite food that isn’t on her diet. Aly started off by telling us, “I think it’s important to keep a balanced diet. So once in a while, you can eat something that isn’t as healthy. I really like to eat chocolate cake.”

We know that it takes a lot of dedication to be a gymnast, and we asked if she ever had any regrets about choosing a career in gymnastics rather than having a normal teenage life. She said that she didn’t have any regrets because she loves doing gymnastics, so it has always been really fun.

Finally, we wanted to know if she watches old videos of herself doing gymnastics. Aly said that she definitely does, but she also told us: “I try not to watch videos where I didn’t do good because then if I fell, I’ll get the idea in my head that I’m going to fall again.”

Cameron couldn’t decide who was his favorite celebrity to meet. He liked them all. Ashley Graham’s confidence was really impressive. She was kind and let us know how important it is to like yourself. Christie Brinkley was beautiful and much taller than he had expected. We found out that her first cover shoot for Sports Illustrated was in 1979 — 38 years ago. Her daughters, Alexa Ray and Sailor, were friendly, and we thought it was nice that they gave us all compliments, too.

Kate Upton and her friend got lots of attention from the photographers. Kate is on the cover of this year’s Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue. It was her third time to make the cover. We were so honored when they asked us if we could take their picture! Cameron got to take a picture of Yu Tsai, who took the photo of Kate Upton that made the cover.

Izebelle really wanted to meet Chrissy Teigen, and it seemed like it was not going to happen. We had been here for almost three hours, but then — just when we were about to leave — a security guard whispered that Chrissy was arriving. We all got excited! We asked Chrissy for few photos, and she happily agreed. Then, surprising us all, John Legend arrived. We were very excited all over again. We love his music. More pictures were taken, and we got autographs from the couple. They were gorgeous and not only models — they were excellent role models.

After meeting all of the celebrities and models, we had a blast at the red carpet event in New York City. This was definitely one of the best times of our lives, and celebrities are really nice people, and we definitely will not forget this day.

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