Saturday, November 19, 2016

Ainsley's Angels!

I have some exciting news!!! After looking a couple different times over the last couple years and learning that there is not a local Ainsley's Angels chapter, I have decided to do something about it.  A few weeks ago I contacted the organization as someone who is interested in being an Ambassador. I received an e-mail, watched a video, and this week participated in a conference call. I was e-mailed the official documents and submitted my application minutes ago. I will, hopefully, be joining the next class of Ainsley's Angles Ambassadors-in-Training!!!

What is Ainsley's Angles?
The short version is that it is an awesome group that pairs athlete riders (in wheelchairs) with angel runners.  The angel runner pushes the athlete as they run a race together.  This group not only allows individuals with disabilities the chance to participate in a race, it spreads awareness!!

 Ainsley's Angels was started by the family of a little girl named Ainsley Rossiter, who lived with a rare genetic disorder called Infantile Neuroaxonal Dystrophy, or INAD. Her parents wanted Ainsley to live a full life, part of which was competing in races.  With the inspiration of Team Hoyt (Dick and Rick Hoyt; a father-sun runner/rider team), Ainsley's Angels was born. Her story can be found at the Ainsley's Angels of America website.  Also, her big sister, Briley wrote a terrific book, Born an Angle, which is all about Ainsley. I bought it to take to work to share with my clients, especially children, because I think that it's a tool to use to spread awareness of different abilities and the cool things everyone can do to help others.

 Ainsley passed away in February, at the young age of 12, surpassing an average life expectancy of 10 years. Ainsley's spirit is very much alive and lives on through Ainsley's Angels. Ainsley will continue to inspire and help others for years to come. She's touched the lives of many people, including those whom she's never met.

What is an Ambassador?
As an ambassador, I will bring Ainsley's Angels to my area!!! I will contact race directors, do fundraisers, recruit Angel runners, Guardian Angles (to help with various tasks/serve as chairs), and many other things to help spread the word and get people involved. This is the shortened version of what is involved in being an Ambassador.  

How do I get involved?
Just visit the Ainsley's Angels website to learn about different levels of involvement and choose which may be right for you! You do not have to be a runner to be a part of this amazing group.

Why I am doing this...
I first heard about Ainsley's Angels through the I Run 4 Michael (IR4) group. This is the group that connected me to my fantastic buddy, Maverick (who just turned 7 yesterday!!). I started seeing things about Ainsley's Angels and thought that it looked pretty cool.  At first, I saw runners who are part of the IRun4 family who were also involved in Ainsley's Angels. I thought maybe it was another way to connect with their buddies.  I researched it and learned what it was about.  As I mentioned, I checked into it a couple times and found nothing in my area (although in the book, there are stars in two Michigan locations, so I'm not sure what happened there). I feel that this is something that needs to be around.  People with different abilities should be able to cross a finish line; not just in a wheel chair division of a race. Learning about various disabilities is always a good thing. Awareness is important. Honestly, it's just something that I care deeply about and want to see in my area.

Of course, my little Maverick is always on my mind.  If it weren't for being a part of the I Run 4 family and being inspired by him, I probably wouldn't know anything about Ainsley's Angels. I have a friend who has a wonderful daughter who spends her time in a wheelchair. Her Mom bought a chair so that her daughter could be part of her running experience.

So why... Because I have been touched by some pretty cool people who I think should have the opportunity to cross the finish line.  I wasn't always a runner. I was morbidly obese.  I cannot find words that can describe the feeling of crossing a finish line. Even my first 5K was a huge accomplishment for me. My most memorable (and most emotional race) was my first half marathon. I'll never forget that feeling; the feeling of doing something that I never thought I would do; or even be able to do. That feeling is one that everyone should have the opportunity to experience.

Sometimes I have rough runs and remind myself that God gave me the ability to do this. I'll always be slow.  Right now, I'm not my slowest but I'm also not back to my fastest (however, I am working on that!). I may be faster than I ever was.  Or maybe I'll get to where I was and stay there. My goal is to at least get there.  I'm slow and some days the runs just suck... But you know what? Fast, slow, hard, or easy, I am able to do it.  We are all different in many ways.  Not everyone has a body that can carry them throughout a race. Just because they may have legs that don't work the same way mine do doesn't mean that they shouldn't be able to feel the excitement of crossing the finish line.

I'm so, so excited for this opportunity!! I'm hoping that they love my application! I'm hoping that my dedication, determination, passion, and love is evident when they read it.

They say that in life, everything happens for a reason.  There are reasons we do things. There is a reason for every person we meet. We're put through hard times for a reason. Life is full of ups and downs and every single one of those has purpose. We can get caught up in negativity easily. It doesn't seem to be as easy to choose to be positive. When you do it though, it's amazing. It's peaceful. Learning to work through the rough stuff, to let go of drama and negativity (and realize that it's not something fun to get sucked into!) is huge. If you choose to rid your life of that toxicity, life can be pretty amazing.

I found this organization and applied because it's something I'm interested in.  I am determined to make my chapter successful. There is a reason I've been drawn to it.  There is a reason I was connected to Maverick.  And little Ainsley.... There was a reason she was born with INAD. Look at what this little life started! How can you not believe that she was put on this Earth, her own version of perfection, for a reason. Look at all the good that one little girl has inspired.

I encourage you to go reflect on your own life. Find your reasons. Release the negative and embrace the positive. And just love...


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