Sunday, July 23, 2017

   

 

  • Ainsley's an Athlete!
  • For a Reason
  • 'Run Jodi asks'
  • First 1/2 Marathon
  • Sky is the Limit
  • Not Broken
  • A Father's Day
  • For Sam
  • Hurricane Katrina
  • Life Changer
  • Life Balance
  • Army of One
  • Riding Shotgun
  • Welcome Home
  • Christina Champion
  • Redefining my Lane
  • Gage CAN and DOES
  • Jennifer McCormick
  • Journey of an Angel
  • Angel Athlete rider Hilary
  • Wonderful Heart
  • Knock on the door
  • The Gift
  • #WeeklyWord
  • Forever Grateful
  • Inclusion Wins!
  • The meaning of Pink
  • Running at 40?
  • What are you waiting for?
  • Hayden's Gift
  • Took Action
  • "Together, We Shall"
  • Power of an Angel
  • Family vs Organization
  • Power of a Conversation
  • Always Willing to Lend a Hand
  • So Dear to Her Heart
  • The Whisper of a PT
  • Strangers Yesterday, Family for Life!

Submitted by Rooster Rossiter:

 

As we drove to the Virginia Beach oceanfront that summer morning in August 2008, my mind raced with questions:


Where exactly do we meet, will there be equipment for Ainsley, how much does it cost to run in the race, how do I sign up, is it too late for Ainsley to participate, will they have handicap parking, to name but a few....within a few hours, little did we know, our path of our lives will have changed forever.
Lori and the kids had made signs to cheer her on..."Beach ya can't catch us" the sign read. Shortly after arriving, all of the questions and uncertainties had clarity and Ainsley was ready to Roll! We linked up with Peggy introduced us to Trey. He had recently started the local organization called Team Hoyt VB that provided the runners and chairs for the riders to race in and made all arrangements to make the morning of running possible. We got Ainsley situated, met her pusher, Mike, and headed to the start. Before long, the race director said go and she took off!
 


I had never been to a race before, so I had no clue about registering for a bib. Hence, I was not registered and did not start running. Just as they disappeared out of sight down the oceanfront Boardwalk, Miss Peggy looked at me and said, "I thought you where running!?!?". I said that I don't have one of those sign thingies to put on my shirt. She looked at me and said, well I guess we can just stand here and wait....but, you do know this is a public Boardwalk? Hmmm, I thought, I guess I could go catch up with them (note: my intent was not to be what I know today is a bandit, if fact I frown on that practice). So, I took off down the board walk. As I reached the 1 mile mark, Ainsley had already reached the 1.5 mile turnaround and was approaching me at her mile 2. So, I turned around to run the final mile with her....so I thought. You see, Ainsley was flying! In fact, as the wind blew in her face she was SMILING BIG, as if she realized she was actually in first place! I ran with her for a half mile...at a 6:30 minute mile pace...before turning to the man pushing (Mike) and saying, "don't let me slow you down, go, go go, she loves it and she is going to win!" And with that, he increases tempo and sprinted her home to a first place finish! Yes, she won the race and that was very cool for her first race...BUT, she also won something so much more valuable that a race. Her first race that day with the newly formed Team Hoyt Virginia Beach was also the first day of the rest of her life, as an ATHLETE!
 


With her smile and her joy, she changed our life forever...8 years later and our family has expanded to and is executing this mission with passion in all corners of the Nation and globe.

I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason -- Always have and always will. Running saved my life and running now is my life.

Rewind to January 2011 – I was at the lowest possible place in my life. It was two years post-college and I decided to move back to my hometown. “Go back to your roots to regroup and get your old self back” I told myself. Prior to moving back home, in Fall 2010 my roommate in Baltimore asked me to run a half marathon with her. As a retired Division 1 athlete (who was probably up 25lbs post graduation), I said “sure” and thought it was a great idea to sign up… and not train. With a max 6 miles under my belt, I struggled 13.1 hilly miles in the Blue & Grey Half Marathon in Virginia. Despite the pain, I got the running bug. It turned into my happy place, it still is my happy place. It made Amanda her old self again.

When I moved back to my hometown I asked myself what was my purpose in life? “I’m an athlete” I answered…well not anymore, you’re an old washed up athlete, think harder. Okay…so I asked myself again, what can I do with the sport I love AND give back to someone in the community? Right then and there I signed up to be a Cross Country Coach with our local Special Olympics team. Fast forward to 2014 – four years later, running was now “my thing!” If you followed me on social media, you knew that. My girlfriend Ashley Johnson approached me and said “Hey, my aunt told me about this group called I Run 4, they pair runners with individuals who have special needs. She had her son Callen join the group, he’s waiting for a runner.” Wow, sounded intense, and the Facebook page seemed intense. Some lady named “Run Jodi Stoner was popping up in my newsfeed EVERY day doing jumps and running crazy miles for this little boy named River. As I watched her excitement and joy I told myself, “I want my own River.” I officially signed up.

And then it happened, after 6 LONG months of waiting – I thought I’d get a buddy from California or Florida, somewhere “cool” compared to Pennsylvania. Well my wish came true, I got someone “awesome”, his name was Liam and he lives in IRELAND! Pam Dennehy (WHATTTTT!!!) It was then on August 1, 2014 – I found my purpose in life… I am supposed to be supporting others…to use my legs for them, but more importantly, share my heart with them.

Fast forward to October 2015 – with a lump in my throat I typed up a long email to this guy named "Rooster" Kim Rooster Rossiter who is apart of Ainsley’s Angels. I’d seen them for well over a year now on the IR4 page and my friend Elice Johnson has an I Run 4 buddy, Lanie Warner who is with AA. If anyone could help me, I knew he could help make my dream come true, he would maybe let me borrow a chariot to bring to Ireland to race with Liam as I just booked a plane ticket to visit he and his family.

Three hours later an incoming call from Virginia Beach popped up on my iPhone and my life forever changed. While I think Rooster can sell a popsicle to a woman in white gloves, Rooster didn’t “sell” me that afternoon on the phone, he made me realize why I’m here in this world, which is what I thought, to support others. My mind new the answer as soon as he asked, but in less than 24 hours my mind made up the decision, I WILL bring inclusion to Southeastern PA.

Forward to present day – my life and heart is now full. Coming FULL circle, my first rider in SEPA was Callen, the little boy/family who introduced me to IR4 and my first Angels were Ashley and Elice. I have an AAmazing family I would have NEVER imagined having if you asked me 5 years ago. Every day and every hour my life is full of smiling runners and riders and the most exciting aspect, this is just the START of SEPA. We’re a young and fresh ambassadorship and the future holds endless options. I helped make a dream come true in Ireland (and mine was made) and I’m also helping dreams come true in SEPA. Ainsley’s Angels has forever changed my life and I thank all of YOU for that!

Whenever I hear the word 'Testimonial', I think of church. A public recounting of a religious conversion or experience.

The word 'testimony' is powerful ......It's like hearing a great sermon, listening to a pastor that delivers a message that is 'spot on' and directly intended for you.
My story has been told, more than once..... I believe you all know how I got here. The testimony I share with you now is one that says, I followed my heart, you should follow yours. Believe in what you're doing and make sure that your drive is bigger and badder than anything that can knock you down.

It's ok to be afraid as long as you keep moving forward.

Believe in yourself, even if you're faking it..... and PRAY.

Can I get an AMEN?!

 

On the 'Writing Wednesday' after Ainsley went to heaven, Jodi wrote:  I would like to share my 'first time meeting Ainsley story' ~~ Gene and I traveled to North Carolina for an Ainsley's 'Roll with the Wind' race. We drove from Florida... Road trip, field trip... lots of snacks, songs and laughs (and of course a 'River' video)
 

We arrived to packet pickup the day before the race and actually got to MEET 'THE Ainsley Rossiter' I never held back with her.. I told her exactly how I felt about her... how much Ioved her and how much of an impact she made on my life. Together we took a million selfie shots and I think I gave her just as many kisses.


The next day was race day..... I arrived early .... extra early.... I met my brother Tim Boyle on that cold and wet March morning and we were both in awe at the sight of the sea of 'freedom chairs' lined up for the morning race... there were at least 30 chairs! ~~ My name was on the list paired with a young man named Zachery..... I was excited to meet him and his parents and as the morning clock ticked, runners and riders arrived..... I ran around in circles looking for Zachery.... no one knew who he was or where he was.... as it got closer to race time, I started thinking Zachery was not going to come. In the middle of my final mad dash around the start area in search of my Angel Rider Zachery, Kim Rooster Rossiter grabbed my arm and stopped me.... He said, 'Come with me'.... I followed. Rooster talks fast, like me.... I like that..... He rattled off the details of a custom freedom chair presentation to Tim Boyle.... at the end of his instructions we found ourselves standing at the side door of the Rossiter family van... he slid the door open and there was Ainsley resting comfortably in the back.... he said with a smile, 'This is Zachery....... You are pushing Ainsley today' ~~ With my best and biggest smile.. with my heart full of love and admiration, The experience was above the 'real'.. I cherished each and every step.. Ainsley, I will never forget our race together. The next time we run, it will be hand in hand.

Sumited by Michelle Smith

Back in June of 2010, I was one of the many recipients of an email from Rooster saying that he and Ainsley would be running in their first half marathon with Team Hoyt VB at the Rock N' Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon that Labor Day weekend and that they were looking for others to join them as part of Team Ainsley. I immediately emailed back that I was in! Mind you, I had only run 2 5k's before (and not well), had no idea what running a half marathon truly entailed, but I just wanted to see Ainsley again (and her family), as I had not seen them since I was Ainsley's preschool teacher in 2007. I had seen pictures that Lori has sent me with Ainsley racing and it looked like so much fun! When I arrive that weekend and as Rooster drove me to the expo to get my bib and showed me the race course while driving, I literally thought that I would throw up, as I realized just how far 13.1 miles really is! The one thing that I remember him saying though was, "You know Michelle, if I were to ever get stationed back at Camp Lejeune, I would make it a point to start something like this (Team Hoyt-VB) down there." As I arrived with Team Ainsley prior to the race the next morning and looked around at all of the Team Hoyt athletes, I felt so out of place and scared as I realized that all of these people were true "runners"...I was just a preschool teacher who loved the thought of joining Ainsley in this race...not to mention that in the back of my mind I just always figured that it would be a kind of "relay thing"!  As we jogged from the meeting spot to the starting line, I was able to push Ainsley for the first time and it was something that I will remember forever! I also remember thinking that I was about to pass out from running 3 blocks! At the start line, I was so taken away with the sense of energy that surround all of the team members and with the sense of family that I immediately felt between them all! The race began and Ainsley, Dr. Laura, Rooster, and Andrew flew out of the start! I smiled as I watched them get further and further in front until they couldn't be seen any more. I also met Miss Abbey for the first time and we ran together for maybe the first 2-3 miles before I fell behind her, too. As I ran alone that day, I just kept thinking about how much Ainsley loved all of this and that, yes, this was needed back in our community, like Rooster said. I finished that race that day (and was so excited to see Rooster and Lori and Katy waiting for me there) and from that day forward, the path of my life forever changed! This path has never been about running for me, but instead, it has been about making sure that EVERYONE has a sense of inclusion. I was so proud when in Sept. 2012 (just 2 years later), Ainsley came down to Camp Lejeune to be a part of the first ever team of the 2nd Ainsley's Angels team to form, right here in the town that she was born in! I will forever grateful for that email that Rooster sent, asking for people to join Team Ainsley! I woudn't have missed it for the world!

My little girl was always very different from her peers. I remember when her preschool teacher called me in for a parent/teacher conference concerned about her behavior. "she spends most of her play time alone in the sandbox and gets upset when she is asked to interact with the other children." Fast forward to the age of 12, after being given multiple false diagnoses: ADHD, Depression, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Anxiety, Learning Disabled.....and given the medications to go with those diagnoses.

 

Thank God I don't just take a doctors word as law. Something was not right about what they what they were treating her with. I pulled her off of all medication (it made her aggressive) and did a bunch of research. I found a possible answer and made an appointment with a specialist. Sara had Asbergers Autism, and NONE of the other diagnoses she was previously given. After having years of IEP meetings, fighting for inclusion, psychiatric appointments and frustration, Sara graduated in the top 25% of her highschool class and headed to Auburn University where she studied Wildlife Ecology and Management, and lived independently for two years.

Then, she became extremely ill. The past four years she has suffered from serious gastrointestinal distress. Gastroparesis caused a 70 pound weight loss and she almost died. After a year and a half of a feeding tube, her stomach began to work again. She began to improve, only to find that now she has a Mitochondrial Disorder and her systems don't work at the cellular level. This causes extreme abdominal pain and nausea 24/7, 365 days a year.

 

Imagine if you will having the flu...ALWAYS.

 

That background is needed for the testimonial...thank you for your patience as I lead up to what Ainsley's Angels means for us all.

Sara Kissick overcame insurmountable odds to successfully become independent over the course of her life. Since becoming ill and having to leave Auburn on a Medical Withdrawl, she has spiraled out of control psychologically. She had all but given up on having a quality life, and spent most days in her bed, watching videos and playing video games. She is now disabled and lives at home at the age of 24.


Enter Ainsley's Angels.

This organization was something I joined to help other children initially. In return, it has given my hope back and allowed my daughter to feel included back in the world...away from the doctors visits, the hospital stays, the endless tests, the feeding tube, and the medication.

During Run the Bluegrass last weekend, my daughter got out of the chariot at mile 12. She walked, ran, and then sprinted to the finish just like she had in high school when she ran cross country. The look on her face tells this WHOLE story with one expression. She is fighting for her life again. Without this organization, and her involvement in it. She would still be in the bed. She has been accepted to University of Kentucky recently, and plans to return to college in the fall. She is taking her life back, pain and all. She is accepting her symptoms and starting to learn coping skills to deal with them. If she can do a half marathon, she can finish college.

April 30th, she will do her first full marathon. The sky is the limit!

 

Submitted by John Gloria

Back in 2013 I had began to lose the use of my right leg. When I was 18 I broke my back and spent months doing traction until there was no choice but to have surgery. After months of physical therapy and years of exercise to stay healthy, my back was failing me. So I started getting opinions of what my outlook was and it wasn't good. The first three doctors told me I would be in a wheelchair in a year. After five doctors I met a doctor that told me he could help me. I was sent to this doctor by devine intervention. I had helped a nurse one morning at 4am on her way home from work and myself on the way to work, she was broke down. After fixing her car, she told me I can't pay you, but if you get a broken bone I can help. I said well as a matter of fact, and told her about the issue with my back, she recommended the doctor I had already seen. He said he could help and I had nothing to lose so this great neuro surgeon and vascular surgeon did what no others said they could do. After waking from surgery, there was the girl I had helped. She was my nurse, we were meant to meet that morning. My only therapy was to walk. I walked with a walker for three weeks then started with walking down the block. Then for about six months I did my own physical therapy and began jogging. On my one year anniversary of my surgery, I ran my first marathon. Then a friend told me about I run 4 Michael and signed up and got the best buddy anyone could ask for, Lucia. I ran and will always run for her. About five months ago, another friend asked me if I thought I could push an adult rider in a wheelchair?? Thats who lead me to Ainsleys Angels. The ability to run or even walk is a big deal for me. To be able to pay it forward and be the motion to help someone who may not be able. That is truly an honor!

Submitted by Russ Howell

My story started in 2010 with the birth of our first child, Dalton. On 10/22/10 our lives changed forever. Born with Goldenhar Syndrome, he had a long, tough road ahead.

On Fathers Day, 2012 my sweet boy gained his wings in my arms on the side of a highway. I couldn't save the one thing that was my godly duty to protect.

I spiraled after that, drinking heavily, uncontrollable anger, I withdrew from life. But...through unimaginable love of my wife, I began to fight back.

Running became my vice...my outlet...my passion.

Our son Colt was born in the summer of 2013 and at less than a month old we were running together and we are still an unstoppable force on the local trails. My wife and I made a promise after we lost Dalton that we would forever strive to make a difference.

This wonderful group encompasses everything I hold most precious.

Family...inclusion...charity...and with your help and support I am determined to change lives and minds.

Submitted by Christine Hamre

My 8 year old, Samantha, is my youngest child. Long story short...everything seemed fine at first when she was born....at 6 months old she had her first seizure. During her first 2 years she was diagnosed with 2 brain malformations. Then at 22 months old she regressed and lost the few words that she had and lost all of her social skills in a very short period of time and was later diagnosed with autism. Those were some very hard days. In June 2013 I got on my treadmill again just to start walking....I figured I had to be in shape (and live forever) so I would always be around to take care of Sam. A couple days into that I'd thought I'd try running (after having been a non runner all my life!)....I ran 10 minutes that day and I was pretty proud of myself. After that I fell in love with running...I signed up for my first races and loved them! Running has done so much for me physically, mentally and emotionally and I feel so fortunate to have the ability to run. I had heard of Ainsley's Angels before, but really started looking into it more last spring. I knew Sam would love to run in races with me, so I looked for a chapter near us...there wasn't one. I was disappointed but then right away thought "why couldn't I get a chapter going here?"....and here we are today, starting our 2nd season as Ainsley's Angels in Minnesota. Sam is still nonverbal, and has very limited communication (although she can be pretty good at getting her point across! ). She can walk but cannot run due to her brain malformations and an issue with the bones in her lower legs. Her interests are pretty limited, but she loves being outside and running with me.. her smiles and giggles when we run are infectious! I love that we have something we can enjoy together and that others in our community (and the rest of our family) can enjoy with us! I've known from very early on in Sam's life that her disabilities would play a large part in guiding me through the rest of my life....hopefully in positive ways. I've wanted good to come out of things that I would not have chosen for her life or for mine. Ainsley's Angels is one of those positives (a HUGE one). I'm so honored to be a part of this organization that I believe in so much, and so happy to be meeting so many wonderful people along the way!

Submitted by Jessica Schneider

On July 31 2003 we welcomed Emily Christine Schneider into the world, she refused to be an August baby. We moved to Slidell Louisiana a few months later in a duty change. Tragically we lost her at just 10 months old to a condition called hydrocephalus. We never knew she had it until it caused irreversible brain damage during a seizure caused by buildup of fluid in her brain. 9 months later I had my daughter Annelise. She was monitored throughout pregnancy for hydrocephalus and when she was a baby and did not have it. Our family had to vacate Slidell for Hurricane Katrina fall 2005 and Annelise and i never returned there to live. Our house was a one level and flooded and had to be restored due to all water damage an extremely long process Ed had to oversee first from Georgia then from apartment in Slidell. I moved to CT for 10 months with Annelise, two dogs and a cat to live with my parents. It became apparent, especially to my mother who was a PT that she was having milestone delays. She did not crawl until 16 months and did not walk until over two years. She received services in CT and then when we moved to North Carolina from the states. She was able to go to preschool when she turned three due to her delays. She was not talking and still is nonverbal. I started getting calls that that she had fallen on several occasions which they had thought was due to her motor delays and rocking gate. At this point she was considered in the Autistic Spectrum disorder category. Second year preschool in the fall we went to CT to visit my parents. My mother recognized as more than clumsiness bc she would fall on her backside and then look around like she was disoriented. We scheduled immediately to get to Chapel Hill to see her neurologist when we returned home. Turned out she was having drop seizures which evolved into other varieties of seizures. Fast forward to winter 2012/2013. I had taken course previous winter to substitute teach due to moving to part time hours in my regular professional of being a dental hygienist. We had a son who was starring kindergarten so hours were great. Met Michelle Smith while subbing at Thompson preschool in Jvle and when she heard about my daughter after she was showing the book Born an Angel, told me about Ainsley's Angels. I think my first race was at the commons, but maybe Michelle can better recall, a 5k. We ran several 5ks then a 10k in May for Hope for the Warriors. Lots of 5 k's in the summer and then the biggest race the Marine Corps half Marathon on Camp lejuene. Many races later Annelise and I, with our customer running chair we fund raised for last year, have our eye on the Marine Corps Marathon. We have met,and virtually met, so many people with Ainsleys Angels its like a huge extended family that is filled with supportive amazing people. Almost forgot we are meeting the Hoyts come May when we run the Holland Elementary 5k in Holland Mass. They started it all. Off to Raleigh this weekend to see our Central Angels in the Raleigh Rock n Roll half.

Submitted by Dolores Alica

I want to share how Ainsley's Angels has changed my life. Well, it started with my own walking for health journey which I had started, then I finally began to participate in 5k's & had completed about 6, 7Half Marathon's... BUT the whole time, I had dreams of being able to push my own son, Jimmy in these events. Jimmy is now 26 & was born hydrocephalic, legally blind, has seizures, has traits of autism amongst a host of other conditions. Jimmy has had 20 brain surgeries for the hydrocephalus and his 21st surgery was for a diaphragmatic hernia... It's so scary. It was really hard to get wheelchair vendor's in my area to understand the type of chair, or sometimes I KNOW they understood but didn't understand how REAL I was to achieve & I felt like I wasn't taken seriously & the consideration for my dreams with my son were swept under the rug, after all.. im not your average athletic chick lol but it was SO in my DREAMS to be like Rick & Dick Hoyt ☺ I did however express this vision to my friends & family, one of which has a gifted adult child such as myself. Well, my dear friend Carol went browsing online and she made a discovery & enter.... Ainsley's Angels!!

I excitedly emailed, called, emailed lol and SOMEONE FINALLY understood my heart!! That person was, Rooster.. The Father of a special little girl named, Ainsley 😇 Well, we started an online fundraiser, I was too excited to wait until I received all donations but the donations definitely helped my family to defray the cost and before you know it... We had our jogger chair!!

Life happens and boy do I know this but the Ainsley's Angels ministry has helped me PUSH myself in some of the most difficult times of my life and has helped us LIVE. I so treasure the Moments I've had with my Jimmy out on events, sometimes it's hard, I can barely lift him sometimes, he gets kinda fussy sometimes, but I in turn, push him to live too and before you know it, he raises his face as he's being pushed into the finish line..... He KNOWS that I am doing this for him and for all those that I can bring along with me!! In my heart, Jimmy knows that these events are for him & I am so touched when I see Jimmy enjoying life, watching the other families enjoying life, watching our friend's that join us enjoy it all! I love watching hearts be touched by the message of inclusion... I was able to add to my list of hero's... Ainsley and her family, all of you that inspire me too to just keep pushing through this journey called life. I love it and I thank you all!! I am able to live & feel a sense of normalcy through Ainsley's Angels.

Submitted by Beth Marie

I am in law enforcement, I only work 14 days a month, I switch from days to nights (shifts) every three months, I see ALOT of negative things, and I run to add balance to my life.

I wanted to give back some positive with all the negative I see. I looked and looked. I did not want to give my time to a second job (although we could use the money) so I thought I would volunteer. There is not much here in the athletic community. I looked at another charity and they stated I needed lots of money and quit talking to me. I gave up hope on the idea and just kept running.

I got an entry into the 2015 Louisiana Marathon for my birthday and that Jan. ran it. The expo the day before we met Rooster, Shamus, Shaun, and Joe. We spoke to them for a minute. Fast forward to the next day mile 19. I hated life!! I could hear someone coming behind me, they too were struggling. I heard a little voice say, "It's ok. You are amazing. We will finish and I love you." (I learned later this was Cierra) I thought to myself, "If he can do it, there is no way I am quiting." I decided that moment that I WOULD give my love of running to others. We signed up with Ainsley's Angels.

The next week we had a conversation with the LA folks and AAA in South MS was born.

I ran every week (sometimes twice a week) with an empty chair. Eventually we made friends. Now the belly laugh from Willy or the high five from Logan gets me past the negative parts of life. I love love love my new family/friends. I love running 4 Allison. I love that I can give my love of running to someone else.

 

Submitted by Tiffany Raymond

Back in 2014, my husband was an enlisted soldier with the Army and we were stationed at Ft. Sill, OK. Being away from my family and often times running for fun made me realize I had a purpose I wanted to fulfill... I was a DOD employee at the Basic Trainee Dental Clinic and I had the pleasure of connecting with a coworker named, Dayle who moved from FL to OK. I quickly became close friends with Dayle and one day while we were having lunch she was talking about her dear friend Run Jodi!! Instantly I had an AH HA moment!! Dayle happily connected me with Run Jodi and I was elated to find out about AA and IR4!! At that moment, I registered to be an Angel Runner and I registered for the 2015 Roll With The Wind race. I had the honor to meet and race with Ainsley, Rooster, Jodi, Tim and so many beautiful families and friends of Ainsley's Angels. My heart was filled with so much joy and for once in my lifetime I felt my running purpose was fulfilled. Ainsley's Angels IS the purpose behind my miles; Inclusion wins every time!

Submitted by Athlete rider Amanda Turner

It will be 4 years this November that I have joined the AAA family. I don't count the number of races I have done, but I do track the number of years I have been a part of the AAA family. You see AAA is more than just running. Initially a family friend, Lindsay, (or as she would say a whole a lot of family not a lot of blood) posted a link about the group on my Facebook page I ignored it because I thought how am I going to get there. Then I few weeks later she came to my job and asked one of three questions she has posed to me over the years. "When are you coming to a race with me?" I countered with "I don't have a ride?" She said I will come get you?" So I faxed in my application, and I believe it was the next Saturday or the Saturday after I found myself riding shotgun in her minivan with her youngest daughter in the back seat headed to my first race.

You see when I moved from Baton Rouge to Lake Charles. I prayed to God to bring friends into my life. Being apart of AA I have never wanted for a ride. They allow me to be me, and get my sense of humor. AAA is a place that has allowed me to grow and accepted me for me. I never once have felt pressure to change and be someone else. AA has also shown me that anything is possible and to dream big. AA has also given me a connection like no other to people who choose to be in my inner circle. I could go on all day. AA has allowed me to use the gifts that God has given me, and lastly loved me unconditionally, and for that I am grateful. I love y'all !! And when people say I don't run. I remind them well neither do I lol! I get the privilege of rolling! Everyone's gotta do their part to be an advocate for others. You don't always have to be loud.

You just have to willing willing to be who God created you to be !

Submitted by Dave Goldstein

I have 2 special needs sons, Josh and Ryan. During their early years, our time spent together was usually watching TV, movies, sports, stuff like that..not much physical activity or anything exciting. About 4 years ago I decided to lose weight (50lbs) and get myself healthy again, mostly because I wanted to avoid diabetes (told I was borderline diabetic)and I had 3 beautiful children to live long for. 

I heard friends at work talking about a 10 miler in Philly in 2013 and made that a goal. Killed it! Then a half a few months later followed by a full marathon 8 weeks later. Meanwhile, my son Ryan saw my running and wanted to get involved with the track team at middle school. With the help of an after school aid, he began running and was included with the team. Over the next few years I always thought of how I could get Josh rolling with me. Was always a fan of the Hoyts and knew it was possible.

In the spring of 2015 I was introduced to Kim Rooster Rossiter, a fundraiser page was made, the money was raised and then the beginning of Team Josh. We were invited to receive our chair at the MCM, since I was already registered for it. Got the chair, learned about Ainsley's Angels, saw the amazing camaraderie and when approached after about bringing AA to NJ by Rooster, I said I had to think about it. Why think about it? For a few days I couldn't think why I shouldn't bring AA to South Jersey, the birthplace of Mr. Rooster. 

I did , I have no regrets and I am honored to be a part of a family that does so much good for the special needs community. My family has become runners and I am too proud and love every moment. This is the direction my life should be going and there is no stopping me. Ainsley's Angels made a huge impact on my life. Love you all.

So often we all get a little lost, hurt, the feeling of defeat, and the worst empty. Almost 3 years ago I was struggling with my relationships from family, God and my job. I lost the passion that I had and felt empty of emotion. I felt like the world was against me and I had no purpose. I felt the end of my inspiration and motivation because I had given up. When I heard about Ainsley Angels it was around the same time that I found out a family members illness was getting worse. I used my anger and sadness to run further and faster. Then having the opportunity to run with Reese, Brogan and the entire Ainsley Angels family made me realize that the things I was going through wasn't even a minor fraction of what these families do. I had the opportunity to see athlete riders get filled with joy from something a lot of people take for granted. I have always wanted to impact people, inspire and motivate others. This simple act of pushing someone changed me. Pushing them helped me while helping them. I wouldn't change a thing.... Ok maybe I would, more racing

Submitted by Elizabeth Smith

I will be completely honest in this post, and tell you that for most of my life, I was perhaps purposely unaware of the special needs community. I had no family, friends, or even colleagues that were a part of this community, so I regarded it as not being in my "lane."

In 2012, I was deployed to Afghanistan, and met Justin through a program I ran with Rock 'n Roll. He and I were chatting after a medal and shirt distribution for a race, and he told me about Ainsley and the Rossiter family, and directed me to the webpage to learn more. Once I returned home, Justin contacted me about being a member of the 2014 Ragnar Team. I immediately jumped onboard, and began fundraising, and in May, started a dialogue with Rooster about the organization. My daughter and I read "Born an Angel" and both teared up at the amazing resiliency of the family, and the ability to turn a devastating circumstance into one that would touch and change so many other lives for the good.

Ragnar was the first time I met Rooster, and I was honored to be entrusted to earn my wings on a solo flight through DC with Bean. It was such an amazing experience as Bean and I talked while we ran through the rain, and I told him he would be pushing me the last mile (the look I got on that one!). Without a chapter in PA (yet) and my tour there being only a year, Rooster proposed a role as a National Ambassador for both Katie and I. We eagerly accepted, and spent the next year reaching out to open new opportunities for AA to roll. Katie's first Rider/Athlete was Mercy in DC, and she wanted to roll with Bean like I had, and again, the Doebler family allowed mine to do so at the Shamrock.

So many races and new faces at Holland, Colonial 200, and MCM allowed me to meet and get to know more amazing families than I can possibly list. As I did, I realized how much I had missed out on for so many years by not having reached out to embrace this community earlier. The sheer joy I get in spending time with our Ainsley's Angels family makes me feel selfish so often, for I get far more from AA than I could ever hope to give back.

Who knew that a short conversation with a guy in Afghanistan could have led me to where I stand today - a completely changed person (in more ways than one), wanting to do nothing more than dedicate my retired life to spreading the message and legacy of Ainsley Rossiter!

 

Submitted by Kindra Dougherty

For 17yrs I tried to find things for Gage to do. When he was born the doctor said, "never let his disability handicap your family." With 2 other kids doing everything from golf, soccer, gymnastics, cheer and softball there was always a side of me that hurt for Gage. I have taken him to games Etc only for him to sit, listen and have me hold him to try and keep him entertained. Because he can't see he gets nothing out of going to his siblings events without some kind of stimulation.

When I heard Briley Rossiter read "Born an Angel" I was so moved. Ok I cried my eyes out!!! Then meeting the family, raising money for his chair in less than 2 weeks motivated me, my husband and his aid to get ready to push him. 
Since his 1st race seeing his excitement, smile and bond with others has not only given Gage something to look forward to and be involved in it has given us an extended FAMILY in Virginia. Individually the impact has been great too. Jason Dougherty is training to start doing races with Gage, Sienna is volunteering with her team and for me... I'm ALWAYS talking, approaching others and have a sold out heart for not only the entire group but the family who started this journey for my family and want to spread that message!! Lastly.... I am moved beyond words for all who are involved, run, hurt from running and devote so much time and money to push Gage and others across that finish line that have no direct connection (other than thru AAA) to special needs. God has a special place for you in heaven for sure!!

UPDATE:  Since my daughter Sienna was very young she has only considered being a vet when she grew up. Sienna was very small when her brother Gage was his sickest. So as she grew up whenever Gage was hospitalized it was more traumatic than normal. She's always been close to Gage and both of Gages siblings have been able to care for and even able to put his g-tube in for many years. Over the years there have been several ups and downs and times when I as a paren...t had to say no to going somewhere cause it would be to much for Gage and times when I took Gage and he was loud and maybe even a little embarrassing. Over the last year and our constant involvement with Ainsley's Angels, I have seen Sienna grow. This past weekend In Holland I watched Sienna go out of her way with so many of our athlete riders and friends. She's always had a big heart and a special place for special needs but it's become so much more. Over the last 6 months or so she has talked about a career involving special needs! I am so excited to see what path she chooses. I also want to thank all of the Ainsley's Angels of America and Team Hoyt families for their amazing children and loved ones that have touched my daughters life along with so many others!! ‪#‎Togetherweshall‬ make a difference!!

 

Have you ever felt a little lost in the crowd? Unappreciated by those around you? Feeling like you're living life on the sidelines? That's how many children with special needs feel, especially when it comes in relation to their siblings.

When we first became involved with Team Hoyt VB and, later Ainsley's Angels, we were looking for something, anything to get Ashton "involved" and "participating". He had never had an interest in running, but we hoped that he would enjoy rolling with the wind. Boy, did he ever! In just 4 short years he's done nearly 100 races. Everything from 5ks up to a Full marathon, even a Ragnar Relay!

But what it's given us (& Ashton) is a family. One that doesn't judge. One that loves him unconditionally. One that wants him around and doesn't ask really, anything in return other than his pure enjoyment and love of racing. But it's given him something much more than that. He loves to run on his own now. He LOVES people and is always so excited to greet everyone on race morning, giving high 5s and fist bumps. He's happier, he's more social and he's more a part of our world every day. AA and THVB have given us our son back, in every way imaginable. Thank you everyone for loving my boy!

Submitted by Jill Brown
 
I am not sure what prompted me to click the button and sign up to become an Ainsley’s Angel.  I know I was nervous after submitting the form – the website states, “Do you have what it takes to be an Ainsley’s Angel?”  As I stared at the computer I wondered, do I???
 
Of course, I received an email almost immediately from the Florida Ambassador, Jodi Stoner:
 
Hello Jill, I just received your registration for Ainsley's Angels in Florida!!!! So excited for you to join our team... you will be blessed in so many wonderful ways!!!!!
 
Uh oh, it’s real now.  My excitement and anxiety skyrocketed!
 
 
 
 
 
Fast forward to April, 10th, 2016 - I just celebrated my one year anniversary as an Angel at the Iron Girl race in Clearwater, FL.  It’s hard to imagine life without the Angels now as they have become an integral part of my life. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

I have met so many wonderfully kind, generous, thoughtful, gigantic hearted people plus all the kids and adult athlete riders whose smiles and laughter and chants to, “run faster” melt my heart.

 
 
 
 

I never knew I could smile so much or soar so high!  Feelings of euphoria surround every Angel event and leave me floating on cloud nine in the hours and days after!  I never want to come down and I cannot wait for the next race.

 
This endeavor allows me to enjoy something I love and give back.  Reflecting on my time with the Angels, I realize I am the lucky one who has been blessed (as Jodi foreshadowed in our first communication).
 
 
I am beyond grateful and honored every time
I lace up to challenge myself, my Angel Athlete and fellow Angels to create an amazing experience that will carry us to the finish line!
 
I am hopelessly addicted and I LOVE every minute of it!
 
 
As I try to sum up my feelings, this quote a friend posted comes to mind:
 
 
"Remember that when you leave this earth, you can take with you nothing you have received, but only what you have given: a full heart enriched by honest service, love, sacrifice, and courage."                                                                                        -St. Francis of Assisi

 

We all have an inner Angel waiting to unfurl their wings.
 
Thank you Run Jodi for freeing mine!

ANGEL RIDER Hilary shared her testimony with Regional Ambassador Jodi!  

Angel Rider Hilary makes us all so happy that she is in our Ainsley's family We love her!

It was May of last year my first with Ainsley Angels I got to meet my team mates. We ran a great race and I got a my very first medal I remember if I would do this again and I said I would because I found amazing friends. I have participated in a l...ot of races with Ainsley Angels even in the cold..... burr!!!..... but I still enjoyed it.   I love being a part of this amazing group and meeting new people during different races
Jodi is an amazing lady and I am glad I found her and her husband Gene. Plus Scott who takes the most amazing photos of angel riders, and runners. I will be a part of Ainsley Angels for years to come.

 

Image may contain: 12 people , people smiling , outdoor

Submitted by Remy Cotton:

I joined the Ainsley's Angels Family in September 2015 after my friend Holly made me aware. Our Angel Rider was a young girl named Amberley. She was full of life and she has such a wonderful heart. She was cheering us on, as well as all the runners that ran by along the course. It was a great experience that words cannot describe, and as we got closer the finish there was a lot of emotion in me and I'll admit that I got a little choked up, especially when we got to the finish and we were able to help her walk across the finish line. Everyone seeing this was cheering for her, and I'll never forget the feeling I had to be able to be part of her triumph of finishing her first half marathon. She's very kind hearted and strong. Last Saturday I blessed to be able to be one of the Angel Runners for Team Amberley again for her second half marathon!  The Ainsley's Angels family brings a lot of joy to the Angel Athlete-riders, but it also brings much joy to the Angel runners also. I'm so glad Holly got me involved!  #TogetherWeShall

 

Remy Cotton's photo.

Cherish Nero's photo.


I started running four years ago. I ran every morning...not very far and not very fast, but I ran. A few times I passed my neighbor, Jodi Stoner, during my runs. I definitely did not consider myself a runner, but I knew she was a runner. I admired her for how far and how fast she could run, but I had no motivation to do any more than what I was already doing. I thought what I was doing felt good enough for me.
Then one afternoon last Spring, Jodi came knocking at my door. She came to tell me about Ainsley’s Angels of Florida. I could tell that she felt passionately about what she was telling me about, so I signed myself up as a runner and Noah up as a rider. I really didn’t fully understand what I was signing up for, but whatever it was, I was willing to give it a try.
Right after I signed up, Noah was hospitalized for a month. That is when I began to see the Ainsley’s Angels family love. People that I did not know and that I had never met started sending me get well wishes for my little guy. We were one of them before we even knew who they were. That is some amazing love!
When he was finally discharged we entered our first race. It was a very small race and it was enough to take away my nerves about racing, but it wasn’t until our second race, The Iron Girl, that I truly started to grasp what Ainsley’s Angels was going to become for us.
I was paired with two other beautiful ladies and together we pushed Noah over the crazy Clearwater bridge. It was difficult. I had not “trained” for the race. I did nothing more than what I had always done over the last few years. During that race I saw a fire light in Noah. His eyes sparkled as we reached the top of the bridge. He begged for us to go faster! When he flew over the finish line, his whole face lit up. He was a winner! He was hooked! And when I saw the joy in his eyes, I became hooked as well.
My last eight and a half years have been completely consumed with caring for Noah. I take him to doctor appointments and therapies, give him his medicines and tube feeds and make him do his school work. Sometimes in the busyness of his care, I forget to have fun with him and to let him enjoy the life that we work so hard to sustain. Racing with Noah became that much- needed fun time. Running for Noah was all it took to motivate me to be better, go faster, go further, do more. My morning runs turned into purposeful events. Every step I took brought me closer to the next race that Noah could “win.”
Running has become so much a part of me that I don’t know who I was before I became a runner. Yes...I now believe I am a runner. I run FOR Noah. I run WITH Noah. And together we are part of a group of individuals that inspire and motivate us. Becoming an Angel is something that fills my heart with pride and joy. Race days are the highlight of my month! I train with purpose. I want to get Noah to the finish line as quickly as possible so that I can see the smile on his face when he gets his medal.
It is hard to believe that it’s only been a little over a year since Ainsley’s Angels entered my life. I have met so many people that I love dearly. The runners, the riders, the riders’ families...they are all my family now. There is no place I would rather be than standing at the start line, shoulder to shoulder with Freedom Chairs and runners, waiting for the sun to rise and eagerly anticipating the miles that we will cover and the smiles and hugs that await us at the finish line. It is at the that moment of each race that I look down at my little guy and say a prayer of thanks. I have always given my heart to him, but now I can give him my legs. Together we shall!

Submitted by Jennifer Wartman

I wanted to take a moment today and thank you, thank you for the gift that is Ainsley's Angels. You have given Stacia a gift that means the world to me as her mom. By sharing your sweet daughter with all of us you have shown my daughter the power of Rolling With The Wind, you've showed her the warmth of inclusion and you've showed her the gift of never giving up. Having someone mention Ainsley's Angels to us last year when she was in the hospital and we were dealing with an Ng feeding tube and she was entering a level of depression no one should have to feel I was struggling as her mom to find something to give her joy. She felt like her body was failing her and to some degree she may have felt I was failing her because as her mom I'm supposed to fix it and make it all better. I didn't know what to do to bring her smile back. Then one of her treatment team mentioned this thing they'd heard of called Ainsley's Angels, they said contact them its worth a shot. Get her out there, get her involved, don't let her give up. So I did, and that was the best thing I could have ever done for her. Her smile the first time she sat in a chair was so amazing. I saw Miss Stacia's smile something I had been missing for quite awhile.  As her body has continued to make day to day things more difficult for her and she had to take a break from the game of golf, something she has loved for 2 years she tells me that it's okay because she still has racing. Watching her excitement as we sat down and started marking races down in the calendar for 2017 all I could do was smile. Even with the bumps in the road I know are coming your gift of AA will keep her spirits lifted.

Thank you so much for this GIFT!

#WeelyWord Change & #WeeklyWord Cherish show how Ainsley's Angels has changed my perspective on running and I cherish each and every race I get to run with the AA pink. Racing is no longer "my race" but "our race" and I love sharing these wonderful races and mmoments with very special people in our riders, their families and the runners who push along side me. Some of my racing partners are close friends and some are new friends, either way, there is ALWAYS a wonderful time by all when we cross those finish lines.

 

Submitted by Kelly Fecke

A little over a year ago I was at an Iron Girl race and saw all the freedom chairs lined up a...t the start line and I knew I had to be a part of Ainsley’s Angels! After talking to a fellow runner who pushed in the race that day I went home and signed up and that is how my journey with Ainsley’s Angels began! I work at a special education school and love the idea of spreading the word of inclusion in any/all ways that I can. Through this year running with Ainsley’s Angels had changed the way I look at racing and it is no longer about me but about the riders finishing the races and earning their medals! The joy on their faces is priceless! One of the best days of my life came this year with Ainsley’s Angels when I had the opportunity to push my I run 4 buddy! It was such an amazing experience for both of us and now he is hooked on running as many races as his health will allow! I am very thankful for the amazing group of people I was able (and continue) to meet through Ainsley’s Angels. The positivity, kindness, inclusion, and hope that Ainsley’s Angels brings into the lives of the athlete-riders and Angel runners is truly remarkable and I am very thankful to be a part of such a wonderful group!

 
 
Kelly Fecke's photo.
 

In January 2015, we traveled to Louisiana to run the Baton Rouge half marathon. Although we expected a great experience, I could not have anticipated what a profound effect the prerace event would have on my life.  The night before the race, we attended the obligatory carbo loading pasta party with Run Jodi & her husband Gene. The guest ...speaker was the president of AINSLEY'S ANGELS, Rooster Rossiter. I've listened to many incredible motivational speakers but NONE of them affected me as deeply as this presentation.  Through our participation, I was paired with a rider athlete. I had become a veteran half marathon runner and was experiencing some not so subtle, frustrating changes in my performance as an ageing athlete . HOWEVER , until I "pushed" a rider athlete, I had no idea just how much this would change how I perceived myself!! My rider athlete didn't care about our speed or race time, she was absolutely thrilled to cross the finish line and be acknowledged with a medal. Bring an AINSLEY'S ANGEL ATHLETE has given me such joy and has reminded me that giving is such an incredible blessing! Slow and steady does win....INCLUSION WINS!

Subbitted by Susan Mitchell

With a few exceptions, in all the years I have been running races (starting at age 48 -- I’m now 65), I have always been a solo runner. Not because I’m anti-social, but because I do better running at my own pace, and actually tend to get anxious the few times I’ve run with someone, thinking “I’m going too slowly! I can’t keep up! I’ve no breath to talk with!”


Even so, I put my name on the IR4 list in October of 2014 to be matched with a buddy to run for. I also joined the Ainsley’s Angels in Florida group when my friend, Run Jodi Stoner, began its inception as Ambassador, even though I wasn’t entirely sure I was Ainsley’s Angel runner material.


Then, in early January of 2015, when two biopsies confirmed that I have angiosarcoma, a rare cancer of the inner lining of blood vessels in my spleen, I backed away from both of those organizations, not knowing my future health-wise. I reluctantly asked the IR4 team to take my name off the waiting list, although I was very close to being matched then. I also dejectedly gave Run Jodi my AA things, thinking someone else could use them.


Both groups were incredibly supportive of my decision – IR4 said they would put my name on a Medical Hold list and later on down the road, if I felt better, they would match me with a buddy. Run Jodi told me that she would hold my AA things for me and would give them back to me later – she was positive that I would be running with Ainsley’s Angels in FL some day, even though I wasn’t entirely sure myself.
Amazingly and thankfully, I WAS able to run in the months that followed (which helped keep me positive), feeling well even with diminished stamina from the chemo, so I continued to run in races at a slow pace while cheering on my IR4 and Ainsley’s Angels friends. In September, 2015, after having gone through several chemo treatments and still running, I knew I could be a runner for an IR4 buddy, so I contacted IR4 and was soon matched with a remarkable 12 year old named Pete, whose kind mother was aware of my having cancer, yet still welcomed me as his runner.


At the same time, I was ready to be part of Ainsley’s Angels, wearing the pink that symbolized so much, even if I wasn’t yet able to be teamed up with AA runners and riders; I would definitely slow everyone down! So after contacting Run Jodi, I signed up for the Run For the Fallen 10K that my Ainsley’s Angels friends were running, wearing my new AA tank top for my first race with them as an AA solo runner!
From that point on I continued to run at my own pace in races, but now it was as a runner for Pete as well as a member of the Florida Ainsley’s Angels at races they ran in locally, including Run Jodi’s October 2015 Inaugural Ainsley’s Angels in Florida ½ Marathon!


In April of this year, I signed up for a 10K race the Florida Angels were running up in Gainesville with the intent to once again run solo, but the night before the trip up to Gainesville I got a message from Run Jodi, asking if I would help push a rider that had just been added to the list in the 10K, alongside my friend (and Jodi’s husband), Gene. Jodi stressed that there would be no pressure to go fast; I could set the pace and Gene would be fine with that. To be able to earn my wings as part of an Ainsley’s Angels team, pushing a rider “Captain”, had me feeling both excited and petrified at the same time!


The day of the race I met our sweet rider, a young boy named Marcos, who was going to be earning his Angel wings that day, too! While running the race, Gene and I were joined by another Angel, Erica McElhinney, and the fact that Gene and Erica were willing to walk when I need to just touched my heart so – they wanted me and Marcos both to have a successful first time!
I can’t express the incredible feelings that I felt while pushing, then running alongside Marcos -- talking to him while hearing and seeing his own expressions of joy! -- then back to taking turns pushing, throughout the entire race! My heart swelled even bigger than it already was at the realization that I really was a member of an Ainsley’s Angels team, with Marcos pulling us jubilantly over the finish line!


I still have cancer. I still run. But I have enormous support and prayer from family and friends, my CT scans show things remain stable (a very positive thing!), and I am very thankful for so many things, including being able to run, having a wonderful buddy whom I can run for, and for Run Jodi and an amazing group called Ainsley’s Angels, who helped Marcos and me experience inclusion, and get our very own set of wings!


Together we shall!!

 
Image may contain: shoes, one or more people and outdoor
 
Image may contain: 3 people , people smiling , outdoor

 

RUN JODI ~~ It is an absolute pleasure to share Angel Anne Marie's testimony with all of you today. A dear friend and a beautiful example of 'Together We Shall' ~~


It’s never too late to make a difference: At 40 I decided I wanted to run… “40!!”.
I had the ability all those years but never did. Why? I could give you all kinds of reasons/ excuses. First came kids, then school, marriage, work, moving to a new country, more kids, more marriages, more school, more work. I was always pretty thin but never healthy. But it all caught up to me at 40… not so thin, not so healthy. Shoulder surgery led me to Belinda (fellow Angel and awesome Physical Therapist) and Belinda led me to Jodi  (do I even need to explain ). Becoming an Angel was easy. Volunteer to participate. No real commitment. I didn’t have to do 6 runs a year, pay a fee, I just need to participate when I can. My kind of gig!!! I’m still as busy as ever. Still taking care of my kids, still working (2 jobs), still have all these excuses. But I try to do what I can when I can. A handful of 5ks under my belt, a 10k or two, and my most proud moments, my half marathon runs – I am a runner. I can do this!!!

I earned my wings completely by accident. I’m not a great runner, not a fast runner. How could I be trusted to push such precious cargo? I signed up for the Women’s Half Marathon in Ocala in October. Angels and Riders would be there. I wasn’t there to push, just to support. So I set out with a group of Angels. Off we went with Trinity, running along in a group. “Do you want me to push?” Wait… who said that? Me?? Ok – you take over at the bottom of the hill. What? You want me to push? It’s really that easy!!! I earned my wings. Surrounded by fellow friends and Angels I did it. Not fast, not flashy, just decided it was my turn to push.

I signed up for Ansley’s Angels Inaugural Run. I was pared with Grace and Pari Miller. I hadn’t met either of them before. What if I was too slow? What if something happened? I fell in love the minute we met!! Grace was a hoot!!! And Pari… instant best friends!!! We did our run… not fast, not flashy, but together. And I got to help Pari on such a magical day. I didn’t know it was the first time she was pushing Grace. Not Grace’s first run, but their first together. And I was along for the ride. We did it together. We hugged at the end, we cried, we did it!! Grace was able to run with her mom. It was a moment I will never forget. You may say Grace was the one included. It was really me… I was included in a moment I will never forget. Thanks Grace!!! It’s really that easy! What’s your excuse? I’ve seemed to run out of them myself.
#TestimonyThursday
Ainsley's Angels in Florida

 

 

Submitted by Angel Missy from Florida

About two years ago, Run Jodi encouraged me to sign up for Who I Run 4 and I immediately had to laugh. The prospect seemed ridiculous that I, a non-runner, should sign up to be a runner in a running group! I ended up taking her advice and after nearly three months on the waiting list, I was paired with the most... incredible match I could have ever imagined.  Leigh and I hit it off immediately! Even from the time of our earliest messages, I was awed by her indescribable optimism and zest for life. As our friendship rapidly deepened, so did the inspiration. Before I knew it, I was training for a marathon!
It was during that first training season that Jodi also introduced me to Ainsley’s Angels.

When she described our group’s mission of raising awareness and promoting inclusion, I knew I had to be a part. The amount of love, support, friendship and laughter shared by this family, is purely immeasurable. And that’s the least of it!
There is no way I could possibly describe the joy that comes from seeing those athlete riders’ faces light up at a race. Our finish line celebrations make my heart feel as if it could explode with joy. There is no feeling like it, in the world and I will be forever grateful for this incredible opportunity.
“Do you have what it takes to be an angel?”

I’d like to pose a different question: WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR??? 
 

Image may contain: 8 people , people smiling , outdoor

First off, I want to thank everyone who took the time to vote for Hayden to win the Ainsley's Angels of America quarterly running chariot. It worked! Hayden go...t the best Christmas present! I'm overjoyed and excited to see where 2017 will take us. I'm so glad I can share my passion of running with him. This is a wonderful organization. Now for his dad to run his first 5k this summer. Thank to Chad Darter and Kim Rooster Rossiter. You guys are amazing!💚 #TogetherWeShall Ainsley's Angels Power to Push Ainsley's Angels in Iowa

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling

 

I first came across Ainsley's Angels about 8 months ago. I didn't know anybody involved in the organization and honestly I hadn't run many races. At that time, I had signed up for my first half marathon and I had just started training. I quickly fell in love with running and the freedom it seemed to give me, but I was still missing something. I had recently signed up to become a runner with I Run 4, but I was still awaiting my match. I kept seeing all of Jodi Stoner's posts in the group and was just in awe of the love that she spreads everywhere she goes and with everyone she meets. I looked into the Ainsley's Angels group that she so often mentioned in her posts and I knew that this group was just what I was missing. Being able to give somebody my legs and being able to share the joy of running a race was just too good to be true! And lucky me, there was a race coming to the town that I lived in! I will never forget that first race that I shared with Kelly and Team Emerson. I felt like I was on a runners high that would never end. Aside from the joy of sharing such a special moment, I felt truly honored to have been involved with such an infectious group of men and women. They were so full of happiness and love and I knew that this would be something I would be a part of for as long my legs will carry me! My time with this group has been short, but I greatly look forward to the next race and for the many to come in the future.
 

Image may contain: 4 people, people smiling, text and outdoor

Submitted by Run Jodi

As an Ainsley's Angels family member and runner, every run is unique and exciting and every race has a special story.
On Sunday, my race experience was perfect and magical. Katie and I flew down Bayshore Boulevard! We finished very happy! But it's the story of Angel Jill and Angel Rider Marshall that truly blessed us on that very hot winter day.
The "Hot chocolate" race company tours the nation putting on race events that are hot chocolate th...emed. The race dates are always in the winter and they serve gallons of piping hot wonderful chocolate at the finish line party. On this particular sunny December day in Florida, we needed chocolate ice cream!! It was hot, unseasonably HOT nearing the mid 80° mark with high humidity on a course with ZERO shade.
A minor change in plans had Angel Jill pushing Angel Rider Marshall ....solo.


Now, I'm just going to be honest… Angel Rider Marshall is a big strapping man and Angel Jill, well, she's tough… But she's petite. The race started and we all took off. I saw Team Marshall during the race and even though we didn't have a chance to talk, We shared a wave and a smile and yelled the word 'ANGEL' as we saw each other on the course. I was hoping Jill was able to communicate with Marshall. You see, for most of us, speech is automatic… But not for Marshall. Due to his cerebral palsy, he lacks the fine motor skills to pronounce certain sounds. He has to focus much harder on each sound and constantly focus on trying to speak. So, speaking requires a fair amount of effort for Marshall.  As Marshall and Jill approached the 9 mile mark, with .3 miles left in this 15k event, a drawbridge was the only thing that stood in their way of the finish line. As they started up the hill, the heat, humidity and fatigue really hit Jill hard.
 

Jill told Marshall that she was fading as her pace slowed. There was a moment of silence and then Marshall spoke. He talked slow and steady. He spoke each word separately and with intention. He wanted to make sure she heard what he was about to say. He said, "YOU....GOT....THIS.... JILL… I... .KNOW .....YOU ....CAN ....DO ....IT!" Jill later told me that when she heard those words she dug her shoes into the pavement and pushed with everything she had to get up and over that bridge. When she felt she had nothing left, it was Marshall's spirit and strength that pulled them. This is the true meaning of teamwork and 'Ainsley's Angels'. It's the true meaning of "Together We Shall"!

Image may contain: 4 people, people sitting and outdoor
 

 

Submitted by Angel Jessica in Florida

I earned my wings last April at the Iron Girl 5k in Clearwater. Before I decided to be an angel, I registered for the 5k on my own. Every year prior I ran the half marathon, but in 2016 I have a big race the following weekend and knew I couldn't run the half marathon.

I started to feel bad about not running the half when I saw Angel Jodi looking for Angels for the 5k! That was it - turn my little pity party into something more.

I was pulled by Natalie (along with the help of Wendy) to a brand new shiny 5k PR!

Never estimate the power of an Angel!
 

Image may contain: one or more people
Submitted by Tanya Hernandez:
 
I went back to watch Episode 51 of Spotlight Saturday, and the chills came, then the tears.  I thought about all the positive experiences that Ainsley’s Angels of America promotes in communities across the United States.  There is a genuine love that is present for including children and adults with disabilities.  Sure, there are other organizations out there doing similar things, but what sets them apart is the whole concept of family.  And that concept grew out of the one special family – the Rossiter family.  They could’ve easily hidden themselves away while dealing with the challenges of having a child with special needs, but they haven’t.  They’ve spread inclusion across the country with their own special brand of love, hope, and charity.  Thank you Rossiter family for creating this amazing family!  Congratulations on 5 years of Ainsley’s Angels, and a bright future ahead in 2017! #SpiritSunday
 

Image may contain: 9 people, people smiling, outdoor

Submitted by Heather Howell

I first heard of Ainsley's Angels through a new co-worker at the time, Angela who quickly became one of my dearest friends. One day she had mentioned that she was running in a race that upcoming weekend and that she was going to earn her wings... Naturally, I was curious. She explained that her best friend Jodi had become the ambassador of a group called Ainsley's Angels in Florida. They are a group that uses their love of running to spread awareness to the community about inclusion of special needs people. My heart skipped a beat...I wanted to be apart of a group like that, but there was one problem; I was not at runner at all. Angela, as always encouraged me to give it a try. So I started running on a treadmill to practice and I finally got up to four miles without stopping.. yeah me:) maybe now I can join the team. But I was still on the fence and feeling anxious about being able to keep up with Angel athletes. Angela encouraged me to sign up for Iron Girl in 2015 and go with her to see the Ainsley's Angels in action. I wasn't an official angel at the time but they welcomed me with open arms. I stood in the background that day observing the pre race excitement. Run Jodi was running and jumping around hugging everyone with such love and joy making sure everyone was smiling; it was wonderful to watch. It was at that moment when I knew that I could do this.. I realized it wasn't about being a fast runner, it was about making people smile. I can do that:) The following week I signed up to become an Angel. I had the honor of earning my wings with Team Noah at the Miles for Melanoma race. It's hard to put into words how I felt in that moment when Noah pulled us across that finish line except pure joy. I get to experience that feeling with every team that I have the privilege of being apart of. Thank you, Ainsley's Angels for including me as apart of your family. Love you all 💗

Angel Tod: Dependable and kind and always willing to lend a hand ~ We're happy you're in our Ainsley's Family and we thank you for sharing your testimony ~

I have been participating in local races for the past 5 years, and in the process have created many fantastic memories, and developed a great group of friends.
When Jodi first introduced me to Ainsley's Angles and it's... mission of inclusion I knew immediately that I wanted to be involved in some way.
As a child my mother was a special education teacher, and had helped to start one of the original Special Olympic chapters in Central Indiana.

I have always remembered the smile on the athletes faces that was made possible through their own athletic participation. My daughter Marlynne currently participates in this organization which makes me well aware of the positive impact athletic participation can have on an individuals self esteem.
Ainsley's Angles, by supporting inclusion, gives me a sense of self satisfaction by allowing me to involve myself personally in bringing those smiles to individuals through their own athletic participation. The smiles we can all witness as any Angel Rider crosses the finish line makes me both grateful and proud to be part of such a terrific organization, and I look forward to creating many more great memories with the new friends, riders, and other members who I have had the privilege to meet. Inclusion Wins

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, sunglasses, outdoor and closeup
Image may contain: 5 people, people smiling, people sitting
Image may contain: 1 person
Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, outdoor
 

Christian and his friend Tammy rolled in their first event with Ainsley's Angels in Southeast NC!

Below Tammy shares her testimony on why Ainsley's Angels is so dear to her heart!

"I first heard of Ainsley's Angels when they walked, ran, and rolled in last year's Miracles in Motion 5K. Each rider inspired me through the joy they had of being included in a race they otherwise would not be able t...o participate in. Each runner inspired me through their selflessness and desire to include those who have different abilities than they do. This organization as a whole continues to inspire me through their commitment to inclusion and determination to share it with the world. Everyone deserves a chance to participate in the everyday activities we all take for granted. I knew I wanted to be a part of this amazing organization in this year's race when I thought about one of the students in my class who I knew would enjoy the experience. Christian and I did not just participate in a 5K. We represented what inclusion means in action. That was one of the hardest 3.1 miles I've ever completed, but as I talked to Christian and heard the crowd cheer him on, every step was more than worth it. He made me a better runner that Saturday, because it was all for him. A huge Thank You to the entire Ainsley's Angels team for everything you do and treating us like family from the start! -- Tammy Pruden

Image may contain: 1 person, outdoor

Our Angel Rider Delaney and Mommy share their special story. We love seeing that sweet smile on race day!

Delaney is a very sweet and happy girl. She enjoys anything that involves fast movements. She loves jumping things in her wheelchair with her dad or spinning around in a swing.

On Saturday mornings you can find her on the baseball field with The Miracle League. She loves life and has fought very hard ...for hers many times.


Recently, we discovered this amazing group of runner who call themselves Ainsley's Angels through a therapist at Delaney's school. The Angels push children like Delaney in specialized chariots in races.

This is something Delaney wouldn't be able to do without them. Delaney has been in two races so far, a 5k and a 10k. She even came in first in her age group at one of them.

We look for to many more races with these beautiful Angels.

Image may contain: 9 people, people smiling, people sitting, child and outdoor
Image may contain: 1 person, shoes and outdoor
Image may contain: 1 person, sunglasses, closeup and outdoor
Image may contain: 3 people, people smiling, people sitting and outdoor

Testimony of Jennifer Oliva from AA in NE Alabama

Almost two years ago my father sent me a message that said, "I want M.j. to run in a 5k with me and your sister". I responded with "Haha, okay, but your skipping a few milestones"!

You see, my son was born with cerebral palsy and at the age of 4 he was unable to walk, let alone run!
I didn't question my fathers request. On the day of MJ'S first race, I packed his usual feeding supplies and toiletries and we made our way to the race co...urse still trying to figure out exactly what we were about to get ourselves into.

The instructions we were given were simple; find the pink tent and meet us there.


So we did....
We were greeted warmly by Mitch and Connie Tiffany, our local ambassador and his wife. Right away Mitch jogged over to MJ, met MJ at eye level, and gave MJ a big hug introducing himself and connecting to my son.

Instantly I knew this would be a lifelong friendship.


As a special needs parent, you find that many people will ignore your children and speak to you first. It's a way for those who don't understand special needs to make themselves more comfortable in what they feel to be an awkward situation.

Mitch and Connie and the rest of the local chapter never once did that. In that moment, it was all about MJ, something we had never experienced as a family before. Words cannot express the warmth, companionship, and friendship we have felt with our local chapter.


MJ has participated in over 20 races and has a wall full of medals that even the most experienced runner would be impressed by.

This organization has opened so many doors for MJ that I didn't believe was possible before we meet them.

We have so much gratitude for the runners and guardians that make these events happen.

Thank you Ainsley's Angels for making the impossible.....possible.
Roll with the wind.

Image may contain: 12 people, people smiling, outdoor
Together We shall

Ainsley's Angels of America

 

 

MISSION
In addition to ensuring everyone can experience endurance events, Ainsley's Angels of America aims to build awareness about America's special needs community through inclusion in all aspects of life.  Serving as advocates to providing education and participating as active members in local communities, we believe everyone deserves to be included.
Contributions
All contributions to Ainsley's Angels of America are TAX DEDUCTIBLE under section 170 of the IRS Code.  
We are also qualified to receive tax deductible bequests, devises, transfers or gifts under section 2055, 2106 or 2522 of the Code.  Our tax ID is EIN 45-3576353 and our IRS tax exemption ID (DLN) is 17053067330003.
All donors will receive a Donation Receipt for tax purposes upon request. Thank you for your support.



Home        Ambassadors        Media        Leaders