By Lisa Shipman
Tuesday, May 26, 2015 | 1:05 PM
This was the first year that Ainsley’s Angel athletes have participated in the Mark Forester Price of Freedom race under Haleyville ambassador and coach Elyse Aldridge. The athletes were welcomed by the Forester family to participate and were thankful for their support and the assistance of the local rescue squad who provided back up during the hilly race. Two Angel Rider Athletes won their age division in the race, but the memorial push-ups performed at the finish line was a powerful reminder of why everyone ran. SrA Forester gave his life for our freedoms.Five Ainsley’s Angels Rider Athletes along with their 11 Angel Runners joined other runners to pay tribute to a local hero at the Mark Forester Price of Freedom Race on May 16, 2015. On September 29th, 2010, Senior Airman Mark Forester, beloved son, brother and friend was killed in Afghanistan while attempting to save a fallen comrade. Mark is proof that heroes are real. The 5th annual race raises money for a scholarship for a deserving Haleyville High Senior.
Ainsley’s Angels is a nationwide program in 17 states that provide an opportunity for people with disabilities to be included in all aspects of life including endurance races. Athletes can participate in 5Ks to marathons to triathlons. They do that through the support of local runners who become angel pushers and provide the wings for the athletes. In the endurance events, the angel team is made up of an angel rider athlete, angel runners who are being pulled by their rider athletes to the finish line and guardian angels who support the team on race day by assembling race chairs, taking pictures, assisting athletes and other essential race day functions. Financial support comes from individuals and corporations who partner to provide race chairs, trailers, medals and t-shirts and pay entry fees for races. Race chariots are provided at no cost to the rider athletes as are finisher medals and t-shirts. Children, teens, adults, veterans and anyone with a need and desire to experience the thrill of competition and fun is invited to participate as a rider athlete. The angel pushers are truly blessed to be pulled across the finish line by the smiles and encouragement of the assisted athletes.
Ainsley’s Angels of America was started by Kim and Lori Rossiter of Virginia Beach. “Rooster” is serving with the Marines when he started racing with their daughter with Team Hoyt after Ainsley had a diagnosis of INAD, a rare terminal illness. On July 4, 2014, Angel Elyse Aldridge drove from Haleyville to Tuscaloosa to participate in her first race with Ainsley's Angels. Elyse was pulled to the finish line by Angel Rider Athlete Kylie. This was just the beginning for Elyse and her desire to bring the fun of racing to Haleyville. Elyse brings laughter and conversation and loves to share that her strength and joy comes from her trust in Jesus Christ.
Elyse is the Ainsley’s Angels Ambassador for Northwest Alabama. The Mark Forester Race was her first race as Ambassador. She hopes to participate in one race per month with plans to run the Haleyville 911 Festival race on June 6. Ainsley’s Angels has provided the local ambassador with three race chairs along with shirts and bracelets, but she has to raise the money to cover these expenses and to add additional chairs. In addition to these expenses, all rider athletes participate at no expense of their own. The group covers their entry fees and provides all needed equipment. All donations are tax deductible and will help Aldridge provide the experience of endurance events for assisted athletes.
To learn more about being becoming an Angel and being pulled to the finish line by a rider athlete or to become an assisted athlete and experience the wind in your face, contact Elyse Aldridge and visit the groups website www.ainsleysangels.org. Ainsley’s Angels are ready to Roll with the Wind and would love to have you see those smiles at every mile!