Running is Stacy’s passion, something she attributes to her father, Mike.
“One day my Dad was out running, getting ready for his Army physical training test and he had a heart attack and died. He was 49. It was the same year I got married: He gave me away in July and died in November.”
After a series of job changes in three different states with her husband, John, she returned to her home in Nashville. There, she decided to set up a run in memory of her father, raising money for the American Heart Association.
“I enlisted my family members and we trained. It was really important to me because it was really important to my dad. So it was a way I felt like we could stay connected.”
Racing with Angels
That first run would later lead to Stacy’s involvement with Ainsley’s Angels of America, a volunteer organization that builds awareness and raises money for America’s special needs community.
The organization conducts a series of race events with special needs athletes (Angel riders). They compete on courses in jogger chairs with the assistance of Angel runners. The series focuses on inclusion with the riders being the spotlight of each event.
“I’ve always had an affinity for special needs people. When I was little I would play wheelchair basketball with adults. “
Running to Give Back
Ainsley’s Angels was started by a Marine, whose daughter was diagnosed with a rare, terminal disease that causes paralysis. “That merges my two worlds: my Dad in the Army and helping others through running. So I made a commitment to run and give money and it just kept building with me.”
Stacy raised her first $1,000 to buy a wheelchair in honor of her cousin, who was wheelchair bound and died of cerebral palsy.
“When you run, you run on a team. I told the mother of a little girl I was running for that I loved running and was doing it to give back. But her daughter was the one that kept me going and motivated me to run more.”
Stacy, Mike’s daughter, and her teams have raised enough money for 11 wheelchairs to date. For him and others, they continue to go the distance.