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.
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