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Helen and Noah to Enjoy Rocky Mountain High for KPF

The Kyle Pease Foundation is based in Atlanta with most of their athletes reside in the neighborhoods, cities and downs around Georgia’s capital city. But as KPF continues to visit other parts of the country or their participants move to parts unknown, small KPF annexes continue to surface. One such extension of the Foundation can be found in the mountains of Colorado, where Helen Gardner moved nearly two years ago. Though Helen now calls the Rocky Mountains her home, her heart remains in The Gate City of the South.

From August 28 - 31, Helen will combine her love of mountain biking with her love of the Kyle Pease Foundation; specifically Noah Williams. The two of them will be embarking on a 167 mile, four day ride around the West Elk Loop Scenic Byway of the Rocky Mountains. That's 167 miles ranging from 6,000 to 10,000 feet of elevation! The duo has set a fund raising goal of $8,500 but this ride is about much more than money. It is about love, bonding and learning a little bit about themselves and each other. I caught up with Helen via phone after she had just returned from a training run earlier this week. Winded but enthusiastic as always, Helen was ready, willing and able to share some thought about her “chubby cheeked” riding partner and their journey into the Rockies.

Todd: Tell us about your meeting of the Williams' and how the bonding took place.

Helen: I met the Williams' in October of 2015 at the Marine Corps Marathon. I was there to play cheerleader and had only briefly met them before then. When they arrived from Augusta to DC after a LONG drive, I offered to help Naomi thinking she'd ask me to unload her car. Instead, she asked me to watch Noah in their room while she got situated. I had only met Kyle earlier that day, so I hadn't had much exposure to disabled persons. To say I was overwhelmed is an understatement, but I wasn't going to tell her "no". I sat with him in their room. I don't remember exactly what I said, but I babbled a bit because I was nervous. Due to my newness to the situation I wasn’t sure if he could understand or hear me. I said something to him at some point and he rolled his head back and smiled with this gap-toothed grin. My heart blew open. I fell instantly in love with this kid, that smile, and those cheeks and realized that I needed to stop assuming I knew anything about anything. It was absolutely one of the best moments of my life.

Todd: What did Naomi say when you suggested the trip? 

Helen: She didn't hesitate to say, "Yes!" and I was THRILLED. I felt like I was asking someone to prom. :-)

Todd: Why Noah? 

Helen: Noah was the first athlete outside of Kyle that I really connected with. There's the added bonus of connecting with Naomi, who has become one of my closest friends. It only made sense that they would be who I wanted to come along. 

Todd: How did you decide that Colorado would be your destination? 

Helen: I moved to Colorado about a year and a half ago and fell in love immediately. I love my Kpeasey family and the fear of losing touch with them was very real. I wanted to stay connected with them, share my love of cycling and this beautiful place that I get to call home with some of my favorite people.

Todd: How are you training? How is Noah training? 

Helen: I have a coach (Stacy Sims) who has experience with doing events with the foundation, so she knows what I'm facing in real life. We started training in November of last year. I've been riding and running at least five days a week for months to prepare. LOTS of climbing at elevation. Noah has been doing some bike training with Naomi. She's taken him for several rides to prep him for long hours in his trailer.

Todd: Have you ever taken on such a challenge? 

Helen: Never. This is the biggest physical and mental challenge ever. There are so many parts that have gone into this. It isn't just the training, but the fundraising and, because we are doing this solo and not part of a larger event, I've also taken on EVERY logistical component as well.

Todd: What will you and Noah talk about? 

Helen: Noah is non-verbal which has gotten some questions from people. "How will you be motivated if he can't tell you if you're doing a good job?" While isn't able to speak, I've done enough events with him to know how he's feeling. Our events typically consist of my constant talking and his smiling. We have our own language. That's all I need.

Todd: Who makes up your support team? 

Helen: Naomi: Noah's mom, Stacy Sims: My coach, Peter Darragh: One of my shop employees who will play as mechanic/sherpa and photographer and Dennis Vanderheiden: Who runs “Colorado's Athletes in Tandem”. He is the guy who inspired this ride as he's done 14 day adventures with assisted athletes. He's here to sherpa and be the voice of experience in all of this!

Todd: Are there any additional challenges you encounter by bringing Noah along? 

Helen: We'll be at pretty high altitude and we aren't sure how he's going to take that, so we've been in contact with his physicians back home. Naomi is hydrating him the week plus, leading up to this. Noah has spent a decent amount of time in push chairs for his running events, but a bike trailer for hours will be a new experience. We are breaking the 167 miles up into four days to account for his health and safety with a lot of stops along the way to check in with him. If I were doing this solo, 167 miles could be done in a day. I'm not risking that with him...plus, it gives me four days of fun with my buddy.

Todd: Tell us about how KPF has changed your life, when you became involved, and what your family thinks? 

Helen: I got involved with KPF in the fall of 2015 after having just filed for divorce and feeling unsure about my entire future. I was facing my biggest life failure and meeting Brent and Kyle and all of the KPeasey people genuinely saved me. There are no coincidences in life, so they came into mine at the perfect time. They not only lifted me up when I was at my lowest by becoming my friends, but they inspired me to be and DO better. I've gotten to help run logistics for some of their biggest events which gave me to confidence to take on this challenge. They've also inspired me to take better care of myself and I'm in the best shape of my life. I consider my KPF network family.

Todd: Describe the feelings you anticipate upon completion and what do you think both Naomi and Noah will feel? 

Helen: It's no secret I'm Kpeasey Resident Crier, so I anticipate happy tears and a massive feeling of accomplishment. Not just physically, but through this entire process. I hope that Naomi and Noah feel proud, too, because they've been training and prepping for this for a long time themselves. It's truly taken a group effort. At the end of every half marathon we've done, I've gotten to put Noah's finishers' medal around his neck and it's one of my favorite moments. While we don't get medals for our effort this time, I can't wait to end our final day with a kiss on those cheeks for a job well done. We will have accomplished this Big Adventure for the first time together and I anticipate the feeling of that bond being incredibly overwhelming.

Though it’s clearly not all about the money, Helen and Noah are only half way to their fundraising goal of $8500. Please take a moment and consider donating to their very special journey by visiting the link below:

TO DONATE

Gearing up for Publix with KPF

Gearing up for Publix with KPF

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Wouldn't be a Kyle Pease blog post if I didn't start it off with a top of my lungs shout of "Hello,  K-Peasey Nation!!!

We are gearing up for an absolutely ground breaking event and I can hardly catch my breath because I'm so excited to share the good news. When I started the foundation in 2011, I had lofty goals, but honestly, I never dreamed it would grow to this size. I have spent all of my life dreaming big, but in doing so I also believe in keeping my expectations somewhat real. 

Well, to be perfectly truthful, I never imagined that we would see the day that is soon to come upon us. The Kyle Pease Foundation will have 58 athletes rolling up to the starting line at this year's Publix Half Marathon to be held on Sunday March 18. With over 200 volunteers a virtual sea of Kpeasey blue will be soon throughout the streets of Atlanta. 

We have dreamed of this moment forever and have to pinch ourselves at the realization of this huge accomplishment. There will be countless events leading up to the race including a team dinner to be held with over 300 people in attendance. I'm overwhelmed and just can't wait to experience this momentous event with Brent and all the incredible athletes, volunteers and sponsors who make this all possible. . 

This past weekend we had first race of the year, The Hearts and Soles 5k. It's always nice to dust off the cob webs and embrace a new racing season. This first race had some added significance in that we were gearing up for the qualification for the Peachtree Roadrace.

This year in partnership with the Atlanta Track Club (ATC), we had to qualify for the world's largest 10k. We are super excited to be part of this ground breaking opportunity. Brent and I blazed the trail in 2013 as the first duo team to ever participate in this prestigious event. Now along with ATC. we have seen it grow to nine teams. Congratulations to the Walking with KPeasey AJC Peachtree Road Race qualifiers: Men: Kyle Pease, Justin Knight , Ricardo Aranda.
Women: Naomi Hicks, Katy Freeseman , Lizzie Kirskey. Mixed: Sherry Adams, Bently Grace, Kyliegh Kramlich. #TogetherWeWheel. This is a true life example of being the planters of a single seed, and like farmers nurturing, watering and continuing to work the soil, until our efforts germinate and grow into a precious flower. A virtual garden of inclusion. Thank you to the Peachtree, ATC and all responsible for supporting our message so strongly. 

 Stay tuned for more updates and news as we unveil some new programs and rejuvenate several existing programs as well. We are excited about what 2018 has in store and ready to gear up for everything that comes our way. 

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Kyle Shares His New Year's Resolution for 2018

Kyle Shares His New Year's Resolution for 2018

Three weeks into 2018 and though I'm a bit late in blogging it is never too late to wish everyone a Happy New Year. So happy, my friends, to welcome to a brand new year. A year that will undoubtedly become the best ever for the foundation.

We have scheduled many events, including some very exciting new races as well as some we would choose to never miss. Like reacquainting with an old friend we enjoy returning to the events that have grown along with the Kyle Pease Foundation. Our numbers at the Publix Race this spring, for example, have gone through the roof and are indicative of the growth of the foundation. 

We will also be rolling out some very powerful inspirational tools that will set us up for success and though I'll hold off for now on sharing these I am positive you will hear more in the coming blogs (also known as a big market tease). 

Visit our website for the latest race schedule as our updated 2018 schedule is on the site

As we embark on this exciting year ahead I thought I would share my view on the always popular topic of New Years Resolutions. I choose to never have resolutions but choose to have goals instead. Like many, I simply don't keep a resolution. A goal is attainable while a resolution is something we usually forget about. There is passion in a goal. One is an idea and the other is a carefully orchestrated plan for success that we can put into action. One a fantasy; the other a commitment. The goal for KPeasey is built through every step every; every wheel and every mile. And though it is our goal in 2018 it hasn't changed since the inception of KPF; "To create awareness and raise funds to promote success for persons with disabilities by providing assistance to meet their individual needs through sports." 

And we will continue to reach for that goal into the the future because as you know, "Where there's a wheel there's a way". 

~ Kyle

KPF and a "Pair of Justins" Learn Much During the Augusta 70.3

I've learned so much since we decided to start The Kyle Pease Foundation just six short years ago. The birth and subsequent growth of KPF has been similar to having an infant child. You care for it, you nurture it, you learn from it and teach it. You care about it more than you care about yourself. And when your precious child succeeds, nothing feels better.

When our athletes experience the taste of competition and the flavor of success, my chest swells with pride. Our athletes are inspiring to me and that was on full display this past weekend in Augusta. Justin Dugan and JDUDE showed perseverance thorough out a very difficult Augusta 70.3. They experienced the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat all within one race. Victory in their decision to compete; defeat in their inability to complete the race. Results are not why we started KPF.  We started KPF to show the world that "Together we can and TOGETHER WE WHEEL". Thank you to the volunteers , the countless supporters, parents and the ATHLETES. Thank you Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

-Kyle

And now some inspiring words from Justin Dugan himself following the Augusta Half Ironman. 

I've been trying to process a lot of thoughts about our race in Augusta. Most of all I want to thank you. For many things. All of you extended yourselves over and over for Justin and I. I was able share some special memories with you all.

I learned a lot about myself out on the bike course, both while struggling to keep that bike moving as well as when we couldn't get it going any more. It broke my heart. I sacrificed a lot for this race, time with my newborn son and family, work events and time working on my house.  I felt failure.

Throughout the weekend and after it, I think I learned a lot more about the foundation, inclusion and more importantly the team of people that came to support and work hard for Justin and I.  You guys were my Rocks! I can't even put it into words that will do it justice.

Hearing about how "we did it" so many times right after having my chip taken off was hard to hear. I felt like I failed all the people I asked for donations, all of you and everyone that was cheering us on. I felt like I didn't live up to my end of the bargain. But now, after letting it all sink in I can see the impact we had. Justin is an amazing Man and he handled this race so well. He kept checking on me and making sure I was okay. Even after the race was over. I'm lucky to have been able to share the course with a friend like him.

I have written and rewritten this post already a bunch of times and know that it will not have everything I want to say and need to express. The best I can do is thank all of you again. Throughout the weekend all of you were there for us. When Justin needed someone or something it was done! And even when I needed something it was handled just as quickly and with as much care.

When I've asked Brent about how I can find the motivation to do this because we aren't brothers, like he and Kyle, his response was "Out here, we are all brothers." I think that is what I learned, because I don't know if I believed him when he said that. We were a family out there. We had highs and lows and we were all in it together. We were brothers (and sisters).

We did it. We were there. And just like every other athlete there, we had a shot at finishing. We dealt with problems just like every other athlete has to deal with. And we faced defeat like every athlete has to. We showed that it is possible.

-Justin Dugan