Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Peachtree Road Race Through the Eyes of the Athletes

As Brent and I have expressed on many occasions, The Kyle Pease Foundation was created for a far bigger reason than for me to see my name in lights. Any of you who know Brent and me are  aware that KPF was formed to allow others to experience the same feeling of joy that we feel every single time we compete. Witnessing smiles on faces is a very greater feeling than collecting personal press clippings.
 
From the very first race, we experienced a feeling of accomplishment, a sense of belonging and the ability to experience what it feel like to compete after living much of life viewing from the stands. To share that feeling with other athletes is an incredible gift to be able to give.
 
It gives me equal pleasure to turn the blog over every once in a while to the athletes of the Kyle Pease Foundation allowing them to share their feelings with our loyal readers.
 
This week, it gives me great pleasure to hand over the blogging reigns to Justin "J-Dude" Knight and Matt Shectman, who experienced the Peachtree Road Race together earlier this month. I know you'll be inspired by their words.  
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Through the Eyes of J-Dude:  This was my 2nd year running the Peachtree Road Race.  I was so excited to have lightning speed Matt pushing me.  I knew it was going to be a great race with my buddy Kyle.  It was an early morning, it was raining, but I didn’t care.  I was ready. 
 
After getting settled in the racer, we headed to the start line and we were all smiles.  Of course I still had to talk a little smack to Kyle and Brent along the way.
 
 The race started and it was so cool.  I was cheering Matt on and blowing my air horn as we blazed through the streets of the ATL.  We were so fast that the water station volunteers didn’t even have time to set up before we were flying past them.
 
I loved cheering Matt on and I could hear the crowds cheering us on as we flew past.  What an awesome feeling to be racing neck and neck with Kyle and Brent.  It would crack me up as we would pass them and then they would pass us. 
 
I think the funniest part of the race was at the finish line when we were running so fast, we were drenched, the road was so wet that we actually couldn’t stop.  To quote Matt, we did a “Flintstone stop”. 
 

Racing with KPF gives me a feeling of happiness that no other sport does.  Running these races helps me to feel that I can do anything I set my mind to, and has helped to build self confidence that I had lost at one time. 
 
I am forever thankful for everything that KPF is and will be!  I can’t wait to race again at the upcoming triathlon and IRONMAN FLORIDA!
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Through the Eyes of Matt: About two months before the Peachtree Road Race we were contacted by the Kyle Pease Foundation about potentially doing another event for the Foundation (we had done some great stuff with KPF over the past year, so it was time to up the ante a bit).  
 
Given everyone's interest in running and what better event out there than the 4th of July, we all decided that we should do a big event for the Peachtree Road Race.  It was my first experience pushing an athlete for KPF and so I was a little apprehensive, but once we got the ball rolling with Lululemon and KPF, there was no turning back!  

All of the events and fundraising leading up to the main race on July 4th were amazing.  We had such great support from our students, the KPF donors, and so many more people.  It was truly incredible to be part of.

By the time a rainy July 4 morning rolled around, it almost
seemed surreal, like the event was finally happening.  We were so thrilled to be out there and I couldn't help but put a smile on my face happy to be a part of the race when it was clear that Justin and Kyle were ready to go and compete!

Even though the rain kept the crowd turnout pretty low over the early miles, we were amazed by the turnout at the Shepherd Center and toward the finish.  I don't think I've ever pushed so hard in a race, and I was sore for a few days afterward, but reveled in all the fun and hard work put forth by everyone involved.  

It was a truly special time for me and for all of us at Infinity Yoga.  We are truly blessed to be part of such an amazing organization!

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Weekend is a Winner for KPF

To say it was an incredible day for the Kyle Pease Foundation would be a huge understatement. I could not be more proud of what the past few days have looked like for our Foundation. 

Several months ago, we came up with the idea of making the Peachtree be a friendly competition since the Atlanta Track Club was generous enough to grant us two bibs this year.

Team Pease was made up of none other than Brent and me, while Team Infinity was comprised of Justin Knight and Matthew Shechtman. 

The two teams went to head to head in the Peachtree 10K. As many remember, Brent and I blazed the trail becoming the first assisted race team to compete in the Peachtree two years ago. To now be competing with and against another KPF team is a step closer to our foundation goal of inclusion for all. 

All four of us were attired in our cool lululemon race gear
which were donated to us by lululemon, The Shops Around Lenox. We wore red and blue and Team Infinity were attired in blue tops and maroon shorts.

To my surprise, Team Pease was considered to be the underdog just prior to race time as Matt's previous PR was a blistering 34 minutes. 

Justin's smile, prior to, during and after the race really sparked me because aside from the mission of the foundation,  my personal mission is to see the smile of every athlete that comes through the foundation. That's what it is all about for me. Justin Knight is precisely what we envisioned when we started the KPF and for me that brings absolute joy. 

The weather was dicey all day, but the rain did not dampen our spirits. Justin and Matt had an amazing race and beat us fair and square.

Following the race, Matt shared his thoughts about the race and the weather. "It was a lot of fun out there running with Justin. Despite the dreary weather and early morning downpour, Justin and Kyle were in good spirits the whole time. Their enjoyment and competitive nature was infectious and it made it hard not to revel in the moment."

He continued, "As soon as the gun went off the race was on and Kyle and Brent pushed the pace hard, but soon we were coming up on other wheelchair athletes and Justin let it be known that he was ready to go faster.  From there it was just about hanging on tight - I needed it too, because going up Cardiac Hill was tough, but all of the applause and cheering at the Shepherd Center was plenty of motivation to get me over the top!" 

"Frankly, I couldn't believe how quickly the race went by, it was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. Excited for next year!!"

In addition to the race, it was overall an amazing weekend. With the help of lululemon and  and Infinity Yoga over $10,000 was raised for KPF. W are so grateful to have these amazing companies behind us and we could not have done it without them. 

Our friends at Infinity Yoga had this to say, "We, at Infinity
http://infinityyogaatlanta.com/
Yoga, are so proud to be partnered with the Kyle Pease Foundation.  Through our early beginnings we have had the opportunity to do events with KPF and every time we do they get better and better.  Beyond the beneficent goals and all the great things that KPF does for athletes, we have gotten to know the organization's members and athletes in such an intimate and personal way and even our students and community have gotten involved."

"It is one thing to raise money, and another to give time, but to feel so deeply connected with an organization and its goals has really made our experiences with KPF unforgettable." 

The Kyle Pease Foundation would like to thank lulu Lemon and Infinity Yoga, along with the Atlanta Track Club and Shepard Spinal Center for their continued support of KPF. 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Ricardo and Matt: An inspiration to each other ... An inspiration to us all

What's up everyone? What an unforgettable couple of weeks we have had.  Before we share about our recent Ironman Triathlon Eagleman 70.3 finish, I want to introduce you to a couple of incredible people. 


A couple weekends ago, we had nine KPeasey athletes toe the line at the Virginia Highlands Summerfest 5k.  This is another one of our favorite events and we experienced countless memorable moments. 

Among them was witnessing our youngest pusher when Lauren pushed her sister, Marin!!  This was  the equivalent of experiencing the birth of the next generation of KPeasey runners and made Brent and I feel like proud papas.

We also experienced the most athletes ever to participate in Summerfest with Kpeasey and had the pleasure of watching two of my favorites, who are rapidly forming quite a team. I actually want to turn the balance of this week's blog over to my good friends, Matt Sours and Ricardo Aranda, who ran their second race of the season together. We are honored to share the road with them and hope to see them behind us, next to us or even in front of us for many more miles!!  More to come on our racing adventures soon! #togetherwewheel. KPeasey 
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Ricardo: I'm honored to be given the opportunity to share Kyle's blog space with him and with Matt. As Kyle told you, my name is Ricardo Aranda and I am now a two-time KPeasey athlete. I participated in each events with my new friend, my "brother", my inspiration, my mentor, Matt Sours. We go waaaay back as we met each other about two or three minutes before our first race in March, the Publix 5K.

I couldn't have been paired with a better running partner than Matt and I am so grateful for his friendship. He says that I inspire him, but I honestly feel that he inspires me equally. He really seems to understand me and works hard to make the running experience meaningful for both of us.

I'd like to tell you a little about myself. I am 24-years-old and, like Kyle, I have cerebral palsy, the result of a premature birth. I am also legally blind due to optic nerve atrophy. I can actually see a little bit, but don't do very well recognizing people. 

I refuse to let my disabilities stop me though as I attended public school for most of my academic life and attended Chattanooga Technical College, earning my associates degree in Technical Communications. I am planning to attend Kyle Pease's alma mater, Kennesaw State to earn my bachelors in Public Relations.

When I'm not burning up the race course with my buddy, Matt, I play goalie on a Wheelchair Team Handball team. Many have asked me how I play since I am blind and my pat answer is..."both with assistance and very carefully".

I was actually introduced to Kyle by my handball coach Rick Thompson, an introduction I am very grateful for. After meeting Kyle and attending Camp Wheel Away together, I decided to start running simply so I would have another hobby. I never dreamed that I would love it as much as I do. Matt and I have set a goal of competing in the Marine Corp Marathon together in the fall of 2016. Running with my "brother" in the Nation's Capitol would be a dream come true.


Matt: I've known Kyle for a few years having run into him at a few races. Most of the time I'd get smoked by the Peases and spend the rest of the race thinking about what they are doing and how super cool it is. After I heard that they completed their first Ironman, I decided to give pushing a shot. 

It was a cold rainy day when Ricardo and I ran Publix. We were both soaked by the end but the triumphant bond that we shared was
super cool. I got lucky finding someone who is as competitive as Ricardo. When you meet someone like Ricardo, someone who is always positive, it keeps me positive. We participate in a little playful back and forth throughout the race and he helps push me up the hill emotionally while I'm trying to get us both up to the top physically. I'll tell you, it's hard work pushing, but with Ricardo's enthusiasm it's somehow a little easier.

I will never forget coming down Courtland Ave and Ricardo saw the gold dome of the Capitol for first time.  He shouted, "Oh my God. It's right there". At that moment, I realized running with Ricardo isn't about the finish time. Without a question it is trading up. In many ways I feel a bit selfish, knowing that I get more out of this than Ricardo does.

Ricardo: If I impact somebody, I wouldn't  necessarily know it, but I'm glad I am able to lend a hand, maybe not physically but emotionally.  When I see a big crowd cheering us on, I thank them because I know they are sacrificing part of their day to cheer us on. The least I can do is say thank you.


And I'll never forget the feeling when Matt and I crossed the finish line together. I screamed, "Hey man, we did it." 

Matt: We sure did, buddy. We did it.

Ricardo: You inspire me, man.

Matt: You inspire me too.



Thursday, June 4, 2015

Brent Takes The Wheel as Brothers Blog About Bolder Boulder

It was quite an adventure at the Bolder Boulder 10K last weekend in beautiful, breathtaking Boulder, CO. It was great to spend time with Brent and to hit the ground running, literally and figuratively. We made some awesome connections and our sponsor Newton Running once again rolled out the red carpet for us.

The race itself was very unique due to the altitude in the mountains of Colorado. We weren't accustomed to running in the thin air so it definitely added to our time. That never dampened our spirits and we powered through it, one wheel and one foot at a time.

I'll now hand it over to my brother Brent for his portion of the post. Kpeasey out. 
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What an amazing race experience.  Well, maybe except for the altitude!! Boulder sure knows how to throw a party, that's for sure! The Bolder Boulder is one of the biggest 10k's in the country and Kyle and I were excited at a chance to compete!  We arrived in Boulder later Thursday afternoon and spent the day getting settled. This race was different from many for us as it was just Kyle and I competing.  The race was Monday so we had a few days to explore and enjoy Boulder!
 www.newtonrunning.com
Sunday night we had the opportunity to hang with our favorite folks from Newton Running, some of their elite/pro athletes and their Ironman Foundation Team.  We really cannot say enough great things about Newton Running.  They are a company with even better people at the helm.  They continue to share so much around so many different communities and it is wonderful that we are even just a small part of it.  Of course we wouldn't run in anything else anyhow :). 

Monday morning we walked the short two blocks to the race start and got settled in.  IT WAS cold.  Not exactly late spring air, but it was good for running.  Someone had told us that the hills were tricky and that the altitude might be harder than we thought.  Well they weren't kidding!  By mile two, I felt like I was out of air completely! Kyle was pushing us along, willing us to get moving just a little quicker.  The people of Boulder are very much into fitness and outdoor recreation so there was constant cheer along the road for us.  The finish was super cool! 




We finished into their football stadium and even caught a glimpse of ourselves on the Jumbo-tron!  Possibly one of the coolest parts was that once the last runner is finished the elites/pro runners finally start.  Kyle and I got to sit and enjoy some popcorn while the real race played out on the big screen.  Super impressive to see those guys run and might have even given us some added motivation to go even faster!! 

All in all it was great to be able to run together and we hope to get some of the KPF athletes out with us again next year!! 


 Photo credit: Top photo David Zalubowski/Associated Press 


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

What's Ahead for KPF? Virginia Highlands, Pease Family Grant and the Atlanta Hawks in the Finals

Happy Spring and nearly summer to all KPeasey fanatics in Atlanta and the surrounding areas. It's been a bit quiet since our Publix Race, but we are gearing up for a big summer and have a really great race just over the horizon. The next foundation race is one of our personal favorites, taking place on June 6th. It is the Virginia Highlands Summerfest 5K. 

The 5K is part of the 32nd annual Virginia-Highland Summerfest, which is a non profit event with proceeds donated to neighborhood projects: park improvements, landscaping, public libraries & more. Highlights of Summerfest include the artist’s market with over 200 national artists, live music, food market, Kid’s Fest and of course the 5K Road Race & Tot Trot.  Each year over 50,000 visitors attend Summerfest for one of the most memorable weekends of the year.


For Brent and I, there is nothing more gratifying than witnessing the ear to ear smiles on the faces of our athletes and we're hoping that we can piggy back off the success and enthusiasm of the Publix Race and continue to bring KPeasey to more and more assisted athletes around the country.


One of the coolest things we do as a foundation is awarding the Kyle Pease Foundation Family Grant that we award once per year to one very deserving family. This year will be no exception as we begin accepting applications for this extremely prestigious award. Previous winners include Sean Bates of Fort Worth Texas and Jessica Bryant Minton of Adairsville, GA. The KPF Grant allows winners to use funding to purchase equipment to assist them in racing.

The one big change with this year's award is that we have permanently changed the name from my name to that of our very dear friend Jake Vinson, who passed away last year. Jake was our very first KPF athlete and will forever be remembered as a young man who embodies the spirit of KPF.

If you would like to apply you can find the application on our website or email walkingwithkpeasey@gmail.com. The winner of the Jake Vinson Family Grant will be announced at our annual bowling event to be held in November. 

Brent and I will be traveling to Boulder Colorado this week for the Bolder Boulder 10K looking forward to some down time and to visit the beautiful state of Colorado again. This is a return trip for me as when I was a youngster I participated in adaptive skiing there. We also spoke last year at Newton Running so it will be great to connect again with our good friends at Newton.

We also want to welcome our new partner Morris, Manning and Martin attorneys. It is great to have them as a part of the KPF family.

Lastly, best of luck to our own Atlanta Hawks as they take on Lebron and the Cavs. Next stop NBA Finals.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Publix Weekend is a Dream Come True



Sometimes no matter how beautiful a dream may appear to be in one's imagination, the culmination of that dream exceeds even the most incredible of expectations. 

That was the case this past weekend at the Publix Georgia Half Marathon and Luckie 5K. The event was one of my favorite weekends since we launched the Kyle Pease Foundation just a bit more than four years ago. The whole process was just amazing. From the Happy Hour at Gordon Biersch to meeting new athletes and their families the event was beyond our wildest imaginations. 

It was incredible to feel the love, the drive and the desire of these athletes to compete with KPF. I could tell right off the bat just how dedicated they were and how their families instantly embraced the mission of KPF. I can't explain how much that means to me. 

I have always said the moment I do not have fun is the moment I will walk away from everything. Well based on the way I felt this weekend, I'm not sure that that day will ever come. 


The Sunday morning of the race Brent and my day started at 4 AM in the midst of a steady down pour. Once we assembled all the wheelchairs, 22 in all, we loaded all the athletes. We then introduced nearly 70 volunteers to the athletes. We made sure they were all comfortable and safe and led them to the starting line. 

Nearly half of the athletes were first timers as were many of the volunteers. Their commitment and their compassion spoke volumes about who they were and about their commitment to KPF. 

The Kyle Pease Foundation has always been more about the experience of the athletes than it is about the accomplishments of Brent and I so we opted not to race. It was a bit weird not being on the starting line when the gun sounded but we wanted to be sure that everyone else had a memorable experience. 

We had volunteers all over the course and Brent's wife, Erica, and a handful of fans rooted the runners on at the Rally Corner near the half way point of the race. This gave an extra boost to the KPF athletes as they entered the stretch run. 

By the end, I was soaking wet but I was beaming ear to ear at the thought of seeing our dream grow to the next level. We understand that we are not there yet but that was the largest group of athletes that the foundation has assembled to this point. 

It was a moment that I will always embrace and one that we challenge our foundation members to duplicate and exceed as we strive for continued growth. 

Like any KPF race, this weekend wasn't about finish times or PR's but instead about the smiles, the warmth and the everlasting positive impact this had on the lives of the athletes, the volunteers and the many fans who witnessed the race. 

We are so proud of you all and thank you so much for doing what you do...
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Brent's Corner: Lifetime Fitness Georgia Publix Marathon holds a special place for us. Of course, each race does, but this was the first race that allowed us to sponsor another athlete.  That was in 2012 and since then our participation has grown to 22 athletes!  
I cannot thank the race director and organizers enough. They were seamless to work with and accommodated nearly every request that we had.  

The message of inclusion was felt by nearly every one of the race participants as we had so much road covered that everyone from the front to the back had a chance to witness what we were doing.  



That 2012 race is still special because of who we met that day. Jake Vinson, our first athlete, took to the road with us that weekend and helped grow this race into 22 strong. Without Jake and his mom, Amy, it is hard to say if we would be where we are today.  

Jake is no longer with us, but we hope to carry on his name and recognize what he meant to us as friends, as athletes and as a foundation. Together, with Jake's parents, Scott and Amy, we have started the Jake Vinson Family Grant. This grant is open to applicants of any age and of any need.  

We hope that a gift such as a chair, a scholarship or any need within the family will help make an impact in some small way.  We are so very grateful to the Vinson's for sharing their gift, their son Jake, with us and we hope to continue to honor his memory through this grant. To learn more or for an application please contact us here at  walkingwithkpeasey@gmail.com.  

Monday, March 2, 2015

Pease's Posse Nearly One Hundred Strong at this Year's Publix

It's awfully hard to be think ahead to spring while skidding around on the black ice that blanketed the city tonight.  Of course, it is pail in comparison to our neighbors in the northeast, who are up to their armpits in snow and bundled up due to below zero temperatures. Weather like that makes us love Atlanta so much more than we already do. We hope everyone has remained safe and is ready to lace up and prepare for race season.

The Kyle Pease Foundation will be debuting at the 2015 Publix 1/2 marathon and Luckie 5k to be held on March 22nd. The race will be starting at Centennial Park and runs through Atlanta, parallel to the downtown area. Brent and I will be a game time decision either running the half marathon or the 5K, but we will be sure that everyone involved will have a memorable time. To this point we have nearly 100 athletes and volunteers participating in this, our largest race of the year.

I am so proud and honored to call Atlanta home and have the city as a back drop to one of our biggest events as a foundation. It will truly be a remarkable event and will embody the true mission of the Kyle Pease Foundation. 

If anyone who has not contacted us to this point, would like to become involved either as a KPF athlete or volunteer, please visit the KPF website and sign up or email KPF Executive Director Brent Pease at pease.brent@gmail.com. For anyone interested in sponsoring a KPF athlete, please donate at our website

"The Publix race means a lot to us", explains Brent. "We ran with our first athletes here at what seems like so long ago. We are extremely proud and grateful and how far we've come and look forward to another big year!"
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And now a word from our sponsor: 

The time has come...To order KPeasey cycling and triathlon apparel!!

This wonderful time only comes once a year, so take advantage while this opportunity is available! These Champion System cycling and triathlon kits are some of the best in the business and what better way to support and spread the KPeasey message than to be seen around down in one of these very appealing kits.

To order, click the link below. Time is limited! The ordering period will end on March 8th, so don't delay. The Link below

*Please note that this kit order does not directly benefit the foundation, we are just providing an opportunity to help share and spread the mission of inclusion.


Below are what the kits will look like. If you have any questions be sure to email Shanks@dynamomultisport.com or pease.brent@gmail.com. Invoices will be sent out via PayPal once the order has been placed.