Pushing to the finish line together
The mission of United Athletics is to pair local athletes and individuals who require assistance to participate in a variety of events – swimming, biking, running, and triathlon races. Participation in sporting events promotes both social inclusion and fellowship in a healthy athletic environment. The goal is to create friendships, foster inclusion, strengthen family bonds, and create a community where all are welcome.
United Athletics is a 501(c)(3) and was officially founded in 2012. United Athletics strives to promote friendships between individuals who might never have met. This accomplished by pairing individuals with all types of special needs, with local athletes who have all levels of abilities. UA welcomes the participation of families with their children. These events range from 5K's to triathlons.
United Athletics also provides a free equipment lending program, to assist our athletes to participate in races.
Family Support Fund
In 2014, UA established a Family Support Fund. UA’s main fundraising focus now centers on a this fund. Proving care for loved ones with a range of special needs is a financial hardship for many families. The Family Support Fund provides financial grants to assist with medical bills, household bills, and/or assist in purchasing items that would ordinarily be out of reach for many families.
United Athletics also promotes education about topics important to/about our wonderful world our families and athletes face. This can be found on the Education Tab, and is updated monthly.
Our Board Members
Beth currently serves as the President of United Athletics. She is also a wife and a mother to two wonderful children, one with special health care needs. Beth is also employed as a Service Coordinator for Chesterfield County Service Coordination
Beth is the founding member of United Athletics. Although the official inception of United Athletics began in 2012, Beth has been racing with her daughter Jenna for many years. Jenna has a metabolic disorder called Cerebral Folate Deficiency Syndrome, and has multiple rounds of hospitalizations, surgeries, doctors, and medications. Over the years, Beth found her family becoming increasingly more isolated. Additionally, Beth encouraged numerous obstacles along the way when attempting to enter numerous local races. Through determination, hard work, and a community willing to learn how to race “United Athletics” style, the village of United Athletics was born.
Jerry Duffy - Director of Operations
Jerry Duffy is a former proud service man of the Marine Corps. He is a long term, highly valued employee of Chesterfield County. And most importantly, he is "Jenna's Friend". Jerry was introduced to United Athletics and Jenna through a mutual friend. And it quickly became a fast friendship. Over the last three years, Jerry has come to Jenna's home to run/walk/stroll with her every Tuesday that Jenna was able to go. Jerry truly embraces the mission of United Athletics - Friendship and inclusion.
Shelley Lear: Secretary
Ryan currently serves as the Treasurer and “mechanic” of United Athletics. He is a husband and a father to a daughter with special health care needs. He is currently employed by Pella Windows.
Ryan is the other founding member of United Athletics. He is the father to Jenna, the impetus to the beginning of United Athletics. He is a triathlete, and encountered some of the same barriers when racing with his daughter that his wife also did. He is the the quiet backbone of support for the success of this organization.
A native of West Virginia, Mark has lived in Richmond seven years, is retired from the mortgage business and is married to Anne Callaway Brown. Mark is the proud parent of two Pembroke Welsh Corgis. This is his story of his involvement with United Athletics:
“I have been involved in United Athletics for over two years, serving on the Board, taking photographs, and doing behind-the-scenes logistics work for the larger races.
The first time I was aware United Athletics existed was at the Powersprint Triathlon, where I was racing. In a corner of the transition area was a section of bike trailers and racing joggers. I didn’t really understand what was going on until I saw the kids race. How cool was that?! I was still struggling not to drown, so I didn’t see myself participating, but was intrigued by the obvious enjoyment the kids were getting out of the experience.
I have a special place in my heart for the United Athletics families. I grew up with an older brother who had Heller’s Syndrome, now called childhood disintegrative disorder (CDD), a very rare condition that causes normally developing children to regress in language and social skills, as well motor coordination. Heller’s, or CDD, is now considered a very severe form of autism, and there is no cure.
Steve, my brother, also suffered from seizures. When he was 17, he experienced a seizure, fell, hit his head, and died as the result of a brain aneurysm. Even though I was born too late to ever know my brother is a “normal” child, I loved him, and his death had a profound impact on me. I still miss him.
So when I see our UA families, I see my own, and I know how difficult it is for each of them. There is too little help for these families, and certainly too few opportunities, for both the families and the children, to enjoy activities the rest of us take for granted.
I urge you to get involved. We always need volunteers, racers, and financial supporters. You will be blessed more than you can know.”