Read the full article here!
ASA Athlete Caleigh Littin was highlighted in an article published in the Capital Gazette on Friday, August 28th. The story was displayed on the front page of the Sport's section!
Read the full article here!
Corey & Robin Ward
How did you hear about ASA?
We learned of ASA via Susan Noble, my training coach for the Baltimore Women's Classic 5K. For whatever reason, taking up running, though a more appropriate term would be taking up "jogging," as that's more my speed, has always been something I've wanted to do. Though I'm from a family of athletes, I never found my niche nor ever made time for it I guess would be a more accurate statement. Added to that, I never thought I fit the mold of what I thought a runner/jogger to be.I learned about a 5K training program that culminated in running the BWC. I thought great, this is my chance. This was it this was my start. Time to make the effort. If anything, it was at least my time to try. Corey, of course, was with me and as excited about it as I was.
"When I told Corey about this opportunity...the excitement only grew. And, of course, so did her wardrobe. She informed me she needed running shoes, water bottle, pants, top, etc."
After our initial training meeting, Susan emailed me saying that she'd contacted ASA and told them about Corey. She said she hoped I wouldn't mind that she told them we would be interested and that they would have someone get in touch with me. Would I mind? Are you kidding me? I love when people look out for one another, network with organizations and make people aware of other resources. It's been said, it takes a village. When I told Corey about this opportunity and when Susan talked more to Corey directly about it, the excitement only grew. And, of course, so did her wardrobe as she informed me she needed running shoes, water bottle, pants, top, etc. When we had our first training, I wasn't sure how it would go but by the time she got back, seeing the smile on her face and Corey continually telling me how "awesome" it was, I was convinced. She couldn't wait to do it again!
Tell us a bit about your first race experience.
Wow, first race experience! It's something I'll never forget and as I reflect back on it, I immediately tear up as I do each and every time. How do you put into words the feeling of turning the reigns over of your child to people you've just met? Incredible people who have volunteered their time, effort and energy to be at an event FOR YOUR CHILD. To be there for your child. To support your child and to give them an experience unlike anything they've ever done before. What an incredibly freeing experience that was for Corey and for me, too. To have Corey take off without me. To put my trust in others. To say, "I'll see you at the finish line!" and off we go, in separate directions and at separate paces to run our own races.
"It was one of the most magical moments ever. Period."
I must say, I had complete trust and confidence in ASA and knew Corey would be fine. Through all the laughter and anticipation of personally competing in my own first 5K, I was able to take the course and not worry about how Corey was doing. As I'm thinking back, I almost feel a pang of guilt because truth be told, I'm not even sure I thought about her as I did my thing. That is, until I made the final turn, heading for the finish line and I see Susan, to my left, waving and yelling to get my attention and pointing to her left to make sure I saw Corey and her ASA teammates standing there, cheering me on. To say a wave of emotion washed over me is an understatement. More like a tsunami. I just remember gasping with surprise and grabbing my mouth in an attempt to hold in the swell of emotions that was about to pour out of me. Had I not, I think I would have wept like a baby. Actually, I think I started to but reigned it in. It was one of the most magical moments ever. Period.
Corey still tells people about running in the race and the feedback she receives is nothing but positive and reaffirming.
What are your goals, hopes, and/or expectations with regard to ASA's WingMan program?
My goals, hopes, and expectations are whatever Corey's may be. If she wants to compete in an event every other week, we're there. This is about Corey. This is for Corey. This is her gig. For us to have activities separate from one another where she is off with others is awesome. For me to be standing on the sidelines cheering her on is absolutely beautiful.
Corey being involved with the WingMan program gives me the experience to stand back and watch my child perform on her own, without my help and her doing her own thing. So my goals, hopes, and expectations all boil down to this: Corey participating in multiple events, being continually excited about it and loving every minute of it. It's just that simple and just that special.
The Lady Champions released the following article about ASA's own Team Defu in their Community Newsletter:
On August 16, 2015, Iron Girl Columbia will host their first disabled woman triathlete, Columbia, Maryland’s very own Defu Fekadu. The team consists of swimmer Aleah Zinalabedini, biker Melinda Peters, and runner Kerry Blackmer who will all work together with the help of their team leader, Jennifer Roussillon to assist Defu across the IG finish line.
ASA Wingman & Captain Melinda Peters, Defu’s biker, describes Defu as brave for not only competing in this race for herself but to help motivate and teach others that they too can do anything they put their mind to. Defu told Melinda that Athletes Serving Athletes has “given her a voice”. It isn’t easy to allow someone to pull them behind a bike. Defu overcame her fears and stepped outside of her comfort zone to reach her goal of becoming ASA’s first woman triathlete. She is determined to challenge herself and achieve anything she puts her mind to. Along the way she has motivated others to do, and be, better. For her, the sky is the limit and clearly when she puts her mind to something, it will happen!
Aleah Zinalabedini, Defu’s swimming Captain and Wingman, remembers the first time she met Defu at The Girls on the Run 5k in December of 2014. “She wore her 1,000 watt smile the entire time. It really lit up that cold, misty and dreary day. Defu's excitement and enthusiasm was contagious. As I've been getting to know Defu, I am consistently inspired by her beautiful smile, incredible outlook on life, and ability to work through her fears with grace and support from her wingmen. I am truly honored that Defu and ASA are giving me the opportunity to swim with her at Irongirl! “
Defu’s runner, Wingman & Captain Kerry Blackmer recalls her first experience with meeting Defu. “She was one of the first athletes I had the privilege of meeting. I'm not sure that I realized the profound impact Athletes Serving Athletes and Defu would have on my life.
Over the past year I've watched Defu gain confidence, form new friendships, and take on new challenges. I've watched her go from a shy young lady to an out going athlete with goals and determination. Her positive attitude, smile and courage are both inspiring and motivating for all of us. Just like any athlete, she has been training for Iron Girl. She has gone outside of her comfort zone and continues to push forward. Though we keep reminding her that this race is all about her she is the first to make sure we are ok. "You're going to do great" is what she often tells me as we go out for a run.
It is easy to get caught up in medals, times and PRs. Training with Defu is a constant reminder that this race means so much more than any of that. It's hard to put into words what this race really means. Its about empowerment, it's about finding courage you didn't know you had, it's about working as a team, it's about trusting those around you, it's about doing things that you never thought possible. Simply put, Defu is the epitome of what it means to be an Iron Girl, and I am honored and humbled to be on this journey with her.”
About Lady Champions
Lady Champions is a community created by women for women. Their mission is to decrease gender disparity in athletics through the creation of a nurturing and supportive community which provides female athletes with the resources and opportunities to become involved, to develop their knowledge and skill set, and to challenge and expand their abilities.
To learn more about Lady Champions please visit: