The/Studio: Introduce yourself. Tell our readers a little bit about who you are!
Liz: My name is Liz Smith, single mother in the Army, and a National Ambassador for Ainsley’s Angels of America. www.ainsleysangels.org
The/Studio: First of all, thank you for your service. What does Ainsely’s Angels of America do?
Liz: In addition to ensuring everyone can experience endurance events, Ainsley’s Angels of America aims to build awareness about America’s special needs community through inclusion in all aspects of life. Serving as advocates to providing education and participating as active members in local communities, we believe everyone deserves to be included.
The/Studio: That’s wonderful! What have you learned since joining Ainsely’s Angels of America?
Liz: Since becoming a member of this organization, I have learned how special it is that I am able to get up every day and run…sharing that with others who cannot has become very inspiring to me.
The/Studio: What about your Ainsely’s Angels of America are you most proud of?
Liz: The family we create between our runners and athlete/riders. The smiles we see every time there is a training run or race, and the look on someone’s face when they participate for the first time.
The/Studio: What are some of the greatest challenges you face with your organization?
Liz: Spreading our message and enabling our organization to fund the purchase of more specialty chairs to help get more of the special needs community involved.
The/Studio: Where do you see Ainsely’s Angels in 10 years?
Liz: I hope to see this organization as a nationally recognized one, able to assist in providing life changing experiences to anyone who may want to take part.
The/Studio: What type of legacy do you want to leave?
Liz: I want to leave people inspired to make a difference – to understand how much giving such a small part of yourself can mean to others. I want to make my daughter proud of her mother for what she does, and present a positive role model for others.
The/Studio: That is a great legacy to leave. What is the story behind the custom product that you produced with The/Studio?
Liz: It was the result of a fundraiser for Ainsley’s Angels. I am a graduate of the 1993 class from West Point. Since our graduation, we have lost 8 classmates under various circumstances. I wanted to incorporate a way to remember our fallen comrades with Ainsley’s Angels. The crest you provided for us is my class crest. We raised enough money to purchase one specialized freedom chair to commemorate each of our classmates – $8000.
The/Studio: Wow! $8,000? That is great! How are you going to use this custom product?
Liz: The crest is now sewn upon each chair, along with a line stating “In Memory of _______, Be Thou At Peace.” The 8 chairs rolled in their first race on 25 July 2015 in Lake Charles, LA and provided 8 children an opportunity to become athlete/riders.
The/Studio: Do you have any upcoming events that our community members can attend?
Liz: www.ainsleysangels.org has a listing of our race series and locations.
The/Studio: Is there anything our community members can do to help Ainsley’s Angels of America?
Liz: If anyone would like to contribute, they can do so by accessing https://www.crowdrise.com/givingbackthruthrowback and clicking on DONATE!!!
Thank you Liz for sharing your story with us. You are truly an angel!