Just about 10 years ago Shamus had outgrown his baby jogging stroller.  At the age of 7, he had actually outgrown it sometime sooner but it became evident in the spring of 2013 that we could no longer safely or responsibly squeeze him into the jogger any more.  From the time he was old enough to ride, Shay and I had run hundreds (thousands?) of miles with those wheels. 

In the spring of 2013 when he asked to go for a run and I realized he no longer fit, we were both upset.  We hoped that our miles together on the road, visiting, exploring, singing, and taking in the sights didn’t have to stop. We weren’t sure where to turn, but as a marathon runner I was familiar with Team Hoyt, knowing they had figured out ways to accommodate Rick riding with his dad, Dick, into adulthood.  Perhaps they could help us find a larger ride for Shamus to accommodate his growing frame.

And help they did!  I contacted Team Hoyt and they directed me to Ainsley’s Angels of America.  I immediately reached out to president of Ainsley’s Angels, Rooster, via email and within minutes had a response.  It was not an automated response, but a personal one asking a few questions about Shamus and insisting that they could help.  In the response email from Rooster there was a link to some information about Ainsley’s Angels, the organization Rooster and his family has started in his daughter Ainsley’s honor.  The organization was designed to help families just like ours.  I had no idea that such an organization existed, or that there were so many families like ours that needed help. 

Thanks to Ainsley’s Angels, within a week we had a new Freedom Running Chariot in our possession.  Shay and I had resumed running and scheduled to run our first race together.  Up until that point, Shamus had only ever been on training runs with me.  From that day forward I have rarely run a race without Shamus leading the way.  Our lives would forever be changed as we became part of the Ainsley’s Angels family which has grown exponentially in the past decade. 

Today marks 6 years since Ainsley’s passing.  She passed away just a few months after the 2015 Marine Corp Marathon, which was just a couple months after she had travelled from Virginia to New York to celebrate with us as we completed our run across America.  There wasn’t a day that went by during our 3205 journey from coast to coast that I didn’t think of Ainsley and the lasting impact she was leaving.  The organization that bears her name has done such great work in promoting inclusion, disability awareness and providing gifts of mobility in the form of adaptive equipment across the USA.  I am genuinely honored to be part of such and incredible group and feel blessed to have had the opportunity to have known Ainsley, the inspiration behind the mission. 

As we take a moment to celebrate the life of Ainsley on this Writing Wednesday, I invite you all to share your stories of her inspiration.

Together, We Shall!