Ainsley's Angels is thrilled to partner with Team Babsie help ensure others can soon roll with the wind in their very own Freedom Push Chair!
Meet the amazing Team Babsie
How can I describe my mother? She is smart, funny, kind, and she is devoted to her faith and her family. More importantly, everyone loves her. What do people comment most about her when they meet her? Her smile.
In 1984, at age 38, my Mom was diagnosed with early-onset slow-progressive Multiple Sclerosis. You can imagine the disruption to our lives and to our community. My mother was active. She worked in the school. She had many friends. With this diagnosis, our family was devastated, relationships were challenged, and family rolesshifted. In my heart, although in no fault of her own, I lost my mother.
There were many dark moments that our family suffered through. Those moments are private and painful and it is difficult for me to think about them, never mind to speak of them. Maybe if I shared some you would have a better understanding of not only what I lost, but also how running with her has allowed us to reconnect in a way that fills my heart with everything I had hoped our relationship would always be.
What I would like to share is this: I was a happy-go-lucky kid. I was well behaved, earned good grades in school, and did what I was told. Looking back I think I was one of those naïve kids that enjoyed being young. I never gave thought to worrisome things; I didn’t have to because my parents were in charge.
One day, I arrived home after school. It had been a regular day and while my mom hadn’t been feeling well, I wasn’t worried. She was still going through many tests and at this point had not been diagnosed. What I did know was that she wasn’t feeling herself. She was becoming unsteady and was having difficulty walking. She had fallen a few times, but the doctors were throwing out words like inner ear infection or vertigo. I felt confident that really smart doctors would get to the bottom of her symptoms. Plus, my parents told me not to worry; and, again, they were in charge.
When I walked through the front door, I had no idea that this day was THE day. It was the day our family would be forever changed. It was the day that as I walked in the house, in the middle of a room, I saw it just sitting there, motionless, lifeless, cold; a wheelchair. This was the day my mom was diagnosed and needed a wheelchair. At this point, worry set in.
Flash forward some thirty years later – in a way that only God can make things happen – I came face to face with two people that would change the direction of my life. More importantly, they would help me find the mom I had lost years ago.
On a warm day in July of 2014, I was at the Mill City Triathlon in Lowell, MA, watching a friend compete. Team Hoyt was competing in the same event. While I had heard of them, I had never met nor seen them compete. After my friend finished the swim portion, I crossed the street to the transition area to cheer her on as she moved to the next part of the race. When she pedaled off on her bike, I wished her well and by this time I needed to head home. As I drove away, I saw them.
At first I wasn’t quite sure what I was looking at, but as the image came into focus it hit me. Team Hoyt; I see Team Hoyt. I began to cheer and clap while I hung out the window of the car and that was when it happened. Rick raised his arm to motion to me he could hear me, but – I believe in my heart – he also raised it to say, “Yes You Can.”
Witnessing the power of this father-son team was so moving that I was humbled and immediately began thinking about my mom.
As soon as I arrived home, I typed Team Hoyt into my browser and an overwhelming amount of information popped up in front of my eyes – websites, articles, images, and videos. There they were, Dick and Rick Hoyt, enjoying many incredible sports together. Enabling each other the experience of the power of a team, the exhilaration of competing, and the unconditional love of family. (If you have never typed “Team Hoyt” into your browser, I suggest you give it a try. You will be amazed by their incredible story as seen in this link: ).
As I learned more about the Hoyts, my heart grew so full of love and compassion. At this point, I was determined to contact someone, anyone who could find me a chair – a new chair – so I could run with my mom. With my mind spinning, adrenaline pumping, and heart racing at the possibility, I set out to make plans to find a chair for my mother so I, too, could share the power of a team, theexhilaration of competing, and unconditional love of family with my mother.
The quest began.
I’m not sure exactly how I found Team Hoyt Running Chairs. I had so many tabs open on my computer it is hard to trace back to the exact moment I found Michelangelo (Michael) DiDonato. He works at a family-owned manufacturing company, building Team Hoyt racing chairs. Michael was the first of many people I have met who share in the message of “Yes You Can”.
The conversation went something like this:
The question was simple. I asked, “Can you help me?”
He replied, “Yes, I can.”
The next question I asked, “Can I borrow a chair?”
He replied, “Yes, you can.”
It was that easy. Needless to say, Michael DiDonato holds a special place in our hearts.
Within one week, my kids and I set off to pick up a Jogger – otherwise known as an Advanced Mobility Freedom Jogger – that Michael was so generously letting us borrow. Driving to meet him, I couldn’t help but think, after 30+ years in a wheelchair, my mom will have a new chair. She won’t have to watch from the sidelines any more – this chair will allow her to be included, allow her to feel free. When I called my mom, I would like to say I had asked her if she wanted to try it. I think I just said, “I borrowed a chair so we can run together”. She, of course,said, “I’m in!”
We signed up for our first race in September. Team Hoyt was also running this race. Coincidence? Doubtful. How many people can say at their first race they actually get to meet the team that inspired them? We can.
When we crossed our first finish line, we were hooked and Team Babsie was born. We immediately purchased our own jogger and ran two more races before the end of the year. Each race, for my mother and me, has not been about our pace or our finish time. Why would we want to rush through something that brings so much joy to us? For me, the joy doesn’t come from crossing the finish line, but rather comes from the comments I get from others at the end of each race. “You should see the smile on your mother’s face.” For my mother and I, “Yes You Can” is more than a motto; it’s a lifestyle. It’s our lifestyle. It’s the heart of Team Hoyt and those that join them. It’s the heart of Team Babsie.
Our end goal for this year is to run the Baystate Half Marathon in Lowell, MA, in October. With the help of Ainsley's Angels – a wonderful organization that serves as advocates to build awareness about America’s special needs community through inclusion in all aspects of life – Team Babsie has set a goal to raise funds to purchase Advanced Mobility Freedom Joggers and donate them to others. Team Babsie – my mother and I – would like to share the experience of the message of Team Hoyt – “Yes You Can” – withother families.
Lastly, and most importantly, we would love for you to join us. There is always an open invitation for all to come run with us, or, if you would rather, come cheer for us. Either way, your participation is greatly appreciated. Thank you so much for your support. – Beth
YES, YOU CAN...donate right now to ensure Team Babsie can pay forward end the thrill of rolling with the wind and crossing a road race finish line!
Click the pink button in the upper right of this page or e-mail President@AinsleysAngels.org for a link to make a donation using PayPay and/or for a mailing address should you prefer to donate by check. We will ensure all donations appear on this page as off-line donations.
Another way to help, is to spread the word of our message and efforts:
1. Visit www.AinsleysAngels.org to purchase the children’s book, Born an Angel, written by Ainsley’s 13-year old sister and donate it to a local elementary school library! Proceeds go to the Ainsley's Angels Foundation.
2. Follow us on Instagram and Twitter: @ainsleys_angels
3. Lastly, we invite you to enjoy this USA TODAY Video Story: