Coast Guard members share their reasons for participating in Ainsley Angels runs and encourage other members to join them as another way to support the community.
The first time Petty Officer Third Class Emily Floyd showed up at an Ainsley Angles run prepared to push a child in a wheelchair, she felt emotional. She knew it was a great way to stay in shape but it was so much more—it was a way to represent the Coast Guard while giving back to the community. Although that was three years ago, it’s something she wants to share with her shipmates, encouraging them to participate.
“I want more Coast Guard members to find out about the races and to participate in them. I was hoping that if we got enough of them we could maybe even have Coast Guard Ainsley Angels races across the country and attend these events together,” said Floyd. This would be a way to show our presence in the community.”
Ainsley Angels was established in 2011 out of a father’s love for his daughter for whom the organization is named. Ainsley was the young child of Maj. Kim Rossiter, a retired United States Marine, and his wife Lori. When the family received the news about Ainsley’s terminal condition, running became a therapeutic means to fight their devastation and to enjoy the remaining time they had with their daughter.
Although Ainsley passed away in February 2016, she left a legacy. Today, there are running and sporting events including marathons, triathlons, and cycling teams that occur across the nation in 70 cities and 35 states. Each Angel Runner is paired with an Angel Rider, who is a person with a disability that prevents them from racing on their own.
Floyd is starting to now realize her vision of connecting with Coast Guard family across the country also participating in Ainsley Angels. Husband and wife team, Petty Officer First Class Chelsea Rasmussen and Joshua Rasmussen, a retired chief petty officer, also participate from their home base in Port Orchard, Wash., when possible. Between the two of them, they have run races in Washington, Florida, and Virginia, as well as, Washington, D.C. (Marine Corps Marathon and in North Carolina Coast Guard Marathon). Joshua completed a Tour De Cure bike ride in Virginia in 2018 and 2019, each 100 miles under the organization.
Chelsea Rasmussen is currently deployed on Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star but explains her motivation for involvement, “I work with Ainsley Angels to be able to help bring a fun experience to people who otherwise would not be able to participate in these events. The smiles and laughs from the riders are amazing motivation for training and pushing through races. I’ve also met some really great friends through the organization,” said Chelsea Rasmussen.
Petty Officer First Class Adam Gliesmann became involved with the organization in 2017 while stationed at the Marine Safety Unit (MSU) at Lake Charles, La. In total, he has run in races held in Louisiana, Texas, Alabama, Oregon, and Washington, and is currently stationed at the MSU in Portland, Ore.
“My two biggest passions in life are exercising and volunteering,” said Gliesmann. “I was constantly seeing the Ainsley Angels trailer and members at races in Lake Charles, along with their energetic atmosphere and loud music. One race I just approached them and asked what they do, and I haven’t run a race without AA’s since.”
Participants believe there are numerous ways that these races benefit the Coast Guard community—definitely through fitness, camaraderie, and simply bonding with your rider and proving your capabilities together. “People used to tell me I wasn’t cut out for endurance events and our riders get told that same thing all the time; they get told they can’t run or can’t play or can’t participate in a race, but we get to prove them wrong together,” said Joshua Rasmussen. “It’s also a great chance to work with and get to know people from other units and other services.”
Gliesmann wrapped up the expressed sentiments by stating, “Having more Coast Guard involvement will help with recruiting, public outreach, public interaction, and our overall positive public image,” he said. “By participating with Ainsley’s Angels you will be attending numerous events with people from different areas in the local communities our normal Coast Guard jobs might not expose us to. The possibilities are endless.”
For more information about Ainsley Angels, visit their website to learn how to participate and donate. Also, view these geographic locations to determine the races best for you.