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Justin: Ainsley's Angel in Afghanistan



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Justin: Ainsley's Angel in Afghanistan Photo

The Story

Over the last 9+ months we have kept you all posted on the unselfish dedication of our Gaurdian Angel in Afghanistan, Justin. His inspiring commitment has resulted in 16 half-marathons (many, if not all on a treadmill) and tons of shared awareness in and aroud Kabul, AF. We are honored to have Justin as an ambassador of our cause and look forward to his safe return home. Thank you, Mister Justin Simonitsch!




Family and Friends,

As some of you know and the rest of you are soon to find out, I am heading to Afghanistan for a while.  In an effort to keep my sanity and help pass the time, I have decided to challenge myself while gone.  Many of you know that the running bug has bitten me, and bad at that.  Throughout the year, I am going to partake in several races in an effort to raise funds for a very special cause.  Allow me to use this short video to introduce you to Ainsley and her Angels.


I first had the pleasure of meeting Ainsley's father, "Rooster", in 2009 shortly after I got out of the Marine Corps.  Rooster was a hard working student of mine that was often in early and out late, typical Marine officer.  We finally made it to the end of the course and went to dinner as a class.  That was where I met his family for the first time.  Rooster and his wife, Lori, have three beautiful children, Briley, Ainsley and Kamden.  What was the biggest shock to me though was that Ainsley is wheelchair bound.  You see, Ainsley has been diagnosed with a progressive genetic nerve disorder called Infantile Neuroaxonal Dystrophy (INAD), an illness which leaves her unable to walk or talk.  What moved me the most is to see this family together.  Rooster never once made any excuses while attending class, even though he probably had many.  I credit this to not only his strength, but also to that of his family supporting him.


Fast-forward to 2012, I decided that I was going to get back on the road and start running again.  Throughout the year so far, I have ran six races (everywhere from 5k – 13.1 miles) and have logged over 700 training miles.  At each and every race, I make sure to go say hi to Rooster and his family.  Now both of his other children have become involved with helping Ainsley finish her races.  I have been moved, not only by the Rossiters, but all of the children I see competing with Ainsley’s Angels and Team Hoyt VB.  All of them are so happy and excited to be involved with competing in the races.  The wind in their face has to be an amazing feeling for them.  Their smiles are so bright and it really does infect everyone around.


I found that the base I am going to has hosted “shadow” races with a few races stateside in the past.  I figured that I could add a few more races to the schedule and help raise some money for a great cause.  My plan is to run at least one race per month (5k – 13.1 miles, maybe even the dreaded 26.2) before the end of the year helping to build awareness and support through the myTEAM TRIUMPH - Ainsley’s Angels organizations in North Carolina and Louisiana.  By wearing a team jersey during races and receiving your help and support, my intent is to raise $5,000 so that Ainsley's Angels can continue to spread the message and ensure more kids can “roll with the wind.”


Check back periodically not only to get updates on me and my races, but also on the Rossiter family.  Know that your support is going to a cause that gives these children freedom.  I can only hope when I get home to help be their wings during future races.  Thank you all from the bottom of my heart.


- J


I can be reached directly at throughout my time in Afghanistan, so fell free to email me with words of encouragement or with any questions.  Also, you can  learn more about Ainsley's Angels by visiting thier website:


If you are a facebook user, please like one or both of the chapter pages to stay up to date on races the kids are doing and to see many photos of the events.  or


Since we currently do not have any membership fees, our mission is dependent on support from people like you.  All donations will be used to acquire and maintain specialized racing chairs, boats and bike trailers.  We will also be purchasing team uniforms, race entries for our Captains as well as operating fees.   We also aim to eventually support local special needs-based schools, programs and organizations, while also hoping to experience an out-of-area trip/race for our special athletes.




31 MAY 2013:  1/2 marathon number 12 is complete. Rock 'n' Roll San Diego was finished in 2:16:07. Didn't know if I was going to make the last mile today. It was a rough one. Thanks for all of the support from all of my friends and family as well as Ainsleys Angels. Don't forget to share my link to help out some athetes that can't run on their own.


20 MAY 2013:  For number 11, I did Rock 'n' Roll Portland 1/2. Finished in 2:16:47. Back to the treadmills unfortunately because we are in a "combat zone" and can't wear headphones. Check out my page and help spread the word about Ainsleys Angels.


10 MAY 13:  Today I knocked out 1/2 marathon number 10. We did the Rock n' Roll San Fran 1/2 a little late. Realized that I forgot to post number 9 as well, the Rock n' Roll Nashville 1/2. Finished Nashville somewhere in the 2:21 range and San Fran at 2:18:10.  All for Ainsleys Angels!


12 APR 13:  So for my 8th 1/2 marathon in Kabul, I ran the Rock 'n' Roll Edinburgh. This was the first race that I actually got to run outside. Time wasn't great but at this point it is just about finishing all of them. Turned out a 2:29:08. Definitely not a PR but 8 1/2's in a year is. Thank you for the support Ainsleys Angels. These are all for you guys!


22 MAR 2013: Changing up my weight training program two day before the Dallas Rock 'n' Roll 1/2 Marathon was a little bit silly. The soreness and tightness brought me all the way down to a 2:19:06 finish time. Just glad that I was able to finish though. Don't forget to stop by to help other children get the opportunity to race as well. Thank you Ainsleys Angels for supporting me.


18 MAR 2013: Rock 'n' Roll USA is done. 2:09:38. That makes six 1/2 marathons so far this year for Ainsleys Angels. Don't forget to stop by to help other children get to have great race experiences.


15 MAR 2013: Finished the Shamrock 1/2 Marathon this morning in 2:15:14. Didn't think that the Dolphin Challenge was going to be so tough. Cramping was a pain today. Now on to Rock 'n' Roll USA on Monday. Definitely need the few days of recovery. ...Good luck to all of Ainsleys Angels, on your Shamrock races this weekend. Also stop by to help other special needs kids get the chance to participate.


14 MAR 2013: Shamrock 8k in the bag today, tomorrow the Shamrock 1/2 Marathon followed by the Rock 'n' Roll USA 1/2 Marathon on Monday. Felt strong today thanks to some real inspiration from Ainsleys Angels. Turned out a 48:49 8k time. So glad to see... all of these young people getting out and racing with us. Don't forget to check out and make a small donation if possible to help more children. Thanks also to J&A Racing for letting me participate all the way out here.


22 FEB 2013: Today was the New Orleans Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon. Keeping up my trend of setting new PRs. Today was 2:04:06. Just trying to spread the word to help get other kids get a chance to race like Ainsleys Angels and the rest of her friends. Share the word and thank you to those who have helped out already!


15 FEB 13: Today was the Pasadena, CA Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon. Yet another PR, 2:06:21. It was a total accident though but pretty happy considering that I have been sick most of the week. So easy to keep running when you have Ainsleys Angels behind you.


10 FEB 13: VA is for Lovers 14k completed in 1:17:44. Was rough considering that I am coming down with a cold. Thank you J&A Racing for letting me compete.


8 FEB 13:  Another PR today on the St. Petersburg, FL Rock 'n' Roll 1/2 Marathon, 2:06:26. This one is for my beautiful wife, Jessica, and of course, Ainsleys Angels!  Let's help more kids roll with the wind, thanks for all your support! 


18 JAN 13:  This morning I completed the Arizona Rock n' Roll Half Marathon on a treadmill in Kabul, Afghanistan. Different result than last month, as it was a great morning... I RAN A PR by almost 20 minutes; 2:07:52!!!  Thank you Ainsleys Angels for motivating me like crazy!


7 DEC 12: Just wanted to let you all know that I did the Surf'n Santa 10 miler today. Finished at 1:42:44. Not a PR, but good for AFG!  Thank you for your support!


Team Organizer's Photo

Guardian Angel Justin

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