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kyle pease foundation

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

Inclusion on Display

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With our Nation's celebration of independence still in view, I can't get over the after glow of our own KPF celebration of independence. I hope that everyone from sea to shining sea had a beautiful 4th of July. 

Another successful AJC Peachtree Road Race was highlighted by amazing competition as Brent and I pulled our a dramatic thrilling victory. The weather was beautiful  with inclusion being showcased at the world's largest 10K. The competition was fierce throughout the event with several new comers to the Kpeasey team toeing the starting line at the Peachtree this year.

Though never truly about the wins and losses, with a time of just under 38 minutes, Brent and I executed our race plan to perfection with our biggest race of our lives looming ahead in less than 100 days. Sherry Adams and Brandon Clift won the mixed division and Lizzie Kirksey and Rebecca Carpenter took the top prize in the Women's Push Assit Division. This is the second year of Push Assist Divisions at Peachtree. Not only were the races competitive but the Kyle Pease Foundation continued to break down barriers and show  inclusion on full display.

Now we turn our attention to the falls series highlighted by the Marine Corps Marathon, Justin Knight and team at Ironman WI and culminating in the first brother duo in the world to ever compete in the Ironman World Championship at Kona, HI in October. 

I want to thank so many people, but I especially want to thank Shepherd Center and Atlanta Track Club for helping us create the most competitive push assist race we have ever seen.  Sharing a race that I grew up watching with first timers, and long time race veterans is something that I truly enjoy every moment of.  Even that 3:40 am wake up call :0

We will have additional blogs to share focusing on Kona training updates as well as the unveiling of our new book "We Are All Brothers."  Remember that applications for the Jake Vinson Grant are due by August 31 and finally I leave you with this before turning the blog over to my brother.  America was founded for its freedom. Its just so fitting how inclusion, which represents independence at it's finest, was allowed to be on display on the Fourth of July. 

Now onward and upward as I turn it over to my best friend and brother, Brent. 

As we close out on another great Peachtree our focus shifts to our fall events.  We thank you all for being a part of our KPeasey family and helping show others that, "Where there is a wheel, there is a way!"

Kyle and I have been striving for KONA since 2012 and this year we get our first crack at the hardest single day endurance event on the planet. Had we gotten into KONA in 2012/2013, I am not sure we would have been prepared to make the most of this very unique opportunity. While we will be racing together, our  hope is that our racing will create even more opportunities for disabled persons.  Funds raised for KONA will support a new transport vehicle, a new truck, a van scholarship fund and job opportunities for disabled persons.

This was a personal goal of ours to compete in KONA, but now it carries additional meaning and motivation for us. We thank each of you for continuing to support our dream and the goals of KPF.  Join us for one more this year and help make a big difference in the lives of disabled persons.

Before I sign off, we have a world championship challenge for you as we have a donor willing to match up to $10k for donations made in July. It's like our own personal BOGO. For every dollar donated up to 10K we get another dollar absolutely free. 

I would like to close by thanking Matt & Becky (Yoga Works Atlanta) for helping us grow the push assist division and the dollars to support it, Greg & Christy for creating an event that is the catalyst for so many generous gifts and of course the Shepherd Center and the Atlanta Track Club for your incredible support. 

The Kyle Pease Foundation Cans Some Memories at Publix

The Kyle Pease Foundation Cans Some Memories at Publix

Well if memories could be canned, those we experienced during the Publix Half Marathon would have no expiration date. What an absolutely incredible weekend it was. I cannot thank enough all those responsible for making the biggest event in our history a reality.

We all have good days and bad days. We all have days where we experience growth and other days where we face challenges. As a foundation, we need to take the Publix half marathon and put it into our back pocket to pull out at any time we need to expunge a bad day and replace it with incredible.

It will be a day that Brent and I will never forget. I’m confident it becomes a can of memories that will never expire.

From Friday night to the completion of the race on Sunday night, we were so busy. From getting chairs ready and to the starting area to making sure that everyone was comfortable and ready to roll, the entire behind the scenes operation, required a lot of attention to detail and great combined effort.

The banquet, which was held on Saturday night at the Hyatt Regency in Atlanta was standing room only. The food was incredible and there was not a dry eye in the place. Everyone spoke from the heart and our race director, Helen Gardner, received a well-deserved standing ovation, while Brent and I exchanged mutual admiration for each other with standing O’s of our own.

It was the first banquet of this type with over three hundred in attendance and was the perfect acknowledgment of the fruits of our labor and a fitting thank you for all the hard work everyone put in.

All 58 athletes completed the race in flying colors and the KPF athletes had their own coral at the start of the race. This doesn’t usually occur, but was an example showing how we have truly arrived and been accepted as a key part of this historic race. It was simply inclusion at its best.

Our rally corner, located at mile 6.5 was standing room only and we could hear cheers of encouragement for miles as we were making our way around the corner.

Everyone who participated was honored to be a part of it. The foundation embodies what inclusion is all about and being accepted in such grand fashion was enough to make my heart beat right out of my chest. I have a goal of 90 athletes for next year’s race and feel that it is well within our reach.

Brent and I would like to take the opportunity to thank all of the sponsors and volunteers. Without you none of this would be happening. We’d also like to offer special thanks to the Atlanta Track Club to Helen Gardner, Danny Grabel, Ian Evans, Mike Ragan and Curtis Henry. Our since gratitude also goes out to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Champion Place, and the Titan Wheelchair Sports Program, all of who continue to make inclusion a reality in the greater Atlanta area.

And now a few inspiring words from my brother Brent: 

You have heard us boast of 58 wheelchair athletes, of triumphant finishes but none of that would be possible without the great partnership with the Titans Community Foundation & Rick Thompson.  They are doing amazing work and we were honored they asked to join us this year.  It allowed us to create awareness towards inclusion in a way we have never done before.

This race has turned into a massive undertaking for us.  We had 300 in attendance at dinner, 224 volunteers, 101 hotel rooms, 58 amazing athletes and 1 fantastic cause!  When I took my turn on the microphone I was overwhelmed at the site.  When this all started I don't think any of us realized the impact that Kpeasey could have, not just on those we serve, but on those around our organization.  Thank you to each of you for allowing us the opportunity to serve and for helping create the opportunity for inclusion.

The finishing photos are amazing and you can see more by clicking here: photos 

Camp-Wheel-Away is coming early this year during the weekend of April 6th. We are looking for campers to participate in this incredible weekend experience. Please reach out to Brent if you are interested in attending.

We are also currently accepting applications for the Jake Vinson Family Grant which will be awarded to a deserving recipient at our bowling event in November.

Our next official race will be the Peachtree Road Race on July 4th, the largest 10K in the world.

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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The Kyle Pease Foundation Blasts Through the Tape as 2017 Rolls to a Close

The Kyle Pease Foundation Blasts Through the Tape as 2017 Rolls to a Close

Hello to everyone in KPeasey Nation.  Well as the calendar is about to flip to another year and your local bank or insurance company is about to send you a replacement, I thought it would be fitting to recap some of the highlights of what his been a magical and incredible 2017. 

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The past six weeks especially have been busier than ever before as we were filled with many events that took us out of our home base of Atlanta and allowed us to spread the message to several other regions of the country. One of our goals for 2018 and the future is how to share the Kyle Pease Foundation with a more wide spread area and this fall was certainly a glimpse into what the future of KPF may hold. 

Our fall season began in October at the Marine Corps Marathon where we had fifteen teams start and finish the 26.2 mile trek known as the People's Marathon and people, let me tell you. It was an incredible event. 

Our athletes rolled through the streets of DC with all of the famous monuments in the backdrop as thousands of fans cheered them on through the streets of the Nation's Capitol. The statue of Iwo Jima, Lincoln and Jefferson Memorial, the Washington Monument, the dome of the Capitol building and of course the Pentagon and the White House symbolically rooted our athletes on and made each of us realize how lucky we are to be part of a nation where inclusion is not only accepted but it cheered for. 

As we celebrated the triumph of that weekend, we moved into Camp Wheel Away, our annual camp which allows those with disabilities to participate in many assisted activities that they may otherwise not be exposed to.  This was an incredible weekend full of great camp activities, shared with many new friends and potential future KPF athletes. 

Next came a ground breaking weekend of sorts where we had three different teams competing in three different locations around the country. I was in Savannah GA with two athletes who were running the Savannah Marathon, while three racers were over a thousand miles away in the Big Apple competing in the NYC Marathon. Our executive director, my brother, Brent completed his 9th Ironman representing KPF in Panama City. One day, several racers, three locations all wearing KPeasey blue and sharing the message of acceptance and inclusion. 

What a groundbreaking year it has been. From having 42 athletes compete in the Publix in March, to Brent and I competing in Ironman Boulder, CO to everything in between. It was a banner year for the Foundation and prepares us to catapult in to a very exciting year ahead. 

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And don't forget bowling with KPeasey was another huge success.  The eighth edition was amazing to be a part of as hundreds of fans, friends and family enjoyed bowling, good food, good fellowship and fundraising. Congratulations to Cougar Clifford, who was awarded the Jake Vinson Award and to Justin Knight  for collecting the coveted Broken Wheel Award. Another congratulations to Lauren, Marin and the rest of the Greg Smith Family for the release of "We Wouldn't Have it Any Other Way," the third children's book in our "Where There's a Wheel, There's a Way Book Series. 

I would be remiss if we did not think all of our sponsors, donors, supporters fans and most of all the athletes and their families. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.  Words cannot express my gratitude for each and every one of you.