RTC Sprint Triathlon - Erin Lusby-Donovan's Journey

Here is a peek into a triathlete racing "UA" style for the first time at the RTC Sprint Tri 4/23/16.  Follow her journey on her blog. 

Erin Lusby-Donovan

Blog – https://atriathletesjourney.wordpress.com/

“For our family, finding balance is about gratitude and understanding.  It’s not always easy and certainly not always pretty, but it is always better.”

 I have been on the edge of my seat (or at the edge of my keyboard) waiting to officially announce this amazing opportunity.

This is Rachel! This 13 year old young lady is full of life and loves to race. On April 23rd in Richmond, Rachel, her infectious smile and I will be taking the RTC Sprint Triathlon course by storm. As a part of the United Athletics team, we will be a part of a group of sensational individuals and racer volunteers as we swim, bike, and run our way to the finish line.

"Founded in 2012, the mission of United Athletics is to pair local athletes and individuals who require physical assistance to participate in a variety of events – swimming, biking, running, and triathlon races, promoting both social inclusion and fellowship." (taken from their website)

For the next two months, I will be documenting this journey that Rachel, her family, and my family will be taking together. Also, I ask you to look into United Athletics and consider making a donation to their Medical fund, where families of individuals with special needs can apply for assistance.

Persistently Resilient 5/15

Persistently Resilient


During my first bike ride with Jenna, which we did in Meg’s honor, I reflected on the seemingly insurmountable trauma which occurred in our lives during 2014.  Watching the deterioration of my mother, selling her home, and placing her in a nursing home.  Watching my wonderful, beautiful Rachel blow her knee out while doing what she loves best – playing volleyball.  Watching her struggle for 5 months recovering from a difficult knee surgery.  Seeing the psychological/physical decline of my lovely Jenna.  Losing her to a dark and sad place in her mind.  Finding a still undefined mass in Jenna’s brain, weeks of her not sleeping, her ever increasing aggression/anxiety, and the ultimate punch – deciding to hospitalize her. 

That year truly brought me to my knees, stripping me down to the core of who I am.  Yet, one month after we took her out of the hospital, I am biking with my daughter, listening to the sweet sounds of her laughing and blowing kisses to those we pass, as we honored a woman who has brought so much to others.  I find myself standing again.  Shaky, but standing and facing the sunlight.

Through my life, I am honored to come in contact with so many individuals who face different but equally difficult issues.  They struggle so on a daily basis that it makes my heart ache.  Yet they get up the next day, to do battle again.

Persistently Resilient.

  This is a mantra I have borrowed from a dear fellow traveler, Leslie H.

Persistently Resilient.  It is the ability to work with whatever adversary life throws at you in such a manner  that you come through it unharmed and changed for the better because of it. 

Persistently Resilient.  It requires that one face these adversaries head on, with courage, with love, and with tenacity. 

Persistently Resilient.  It means never ever giving up.  You may stumble and drop to your knees, but after a pause, you struggle to your feet and you stand again, ready to do battle.

Persistently Resilient.  It means that you have a clear understanding that you must move on, that it is vital to those who depend on you. 

Persistently Resilient.  You find that spot in your soul where that clarity of determination lives in all of us, and you hold fast to that sense of purpose and you move on.

Persistently Resilient.  Life grows and is supported by a community of people who come together from all walks of life.  We support each other in ways that are not always clear, but are felt by all who need it.  We may not know each other personally nor may never meet face to face, but through these random acts of kindness, we all learn to lean on and support each other.

Persistently Resilient.  Remember, our lives are all filled with unlimited possibilities.


“In the midst of winter, I finally learned, there was in me, an invincible summer”

Albert Camus.


Awaken to Spring 4/15

Awaken to Spring

And Spring arose on the garden fair,
Like the Spirit of Love felt everywhere;
And each flower and herb on Earth's dark breast
rose from the dreams of its wintry rest.

—Percy Bysshe Shelley

 The foundation of United Athletics is the creation of bonds and building new friendships.  Just like the advent of spring, it is all about new beginnings, about creating a solid foundation for our community and the strong relationships which will arise from this.  As difficult as your past year may have been, embrace these new beginnings, because behind them lays happiness.  What may seem like obstacles are simple hurdles of different heights,  which when overcome, lead to new beginnings.  Dreams that you may once have thought dashed, can simply be molded into different dreams.   Within all of us are untapped possibilities for a wonderful future.


Happy Spring!

Sparkle Effect 2/16

I really struggled this month to put my feelings down on paper.  Not because I had difficulty finding a topic, but because I knew that I couldn’t possibly do it justice.  Have you ever had one of those crystal clear moments?  The moment the clouds part and the sun beams through?  How do you describe a perfect moment where you are one moment all alone and adrift, and then the angels sing and God smiles.  That happened this month. 

I was at a basketball game, in a local high school, watching cheerleaders cheer, and fans clap. Normal.  Right.  What I have always thought of as “your” normal.  My sweet Jenna was there cheering also.  My dear friend Emily turned to me with tears in her eyes, and said, “wow when Ava (8 yo) is in High School, this will all just be normal, no big deal”. Then it hit me, a tornado of emotions, a moment of crystal clearness. MY DAUGHTER is cheering.  My beautiful sweet Jenna and not 7 of her classmates, but 20 of the girls on her TEAM were cheering.  The amazing children at this amazing High School get it.  What we adults seem to have a hard time getting.  That we adults need supports, and notes, and forms and regulations to achieve.  They just do it.  I asked Isa, the head cheerleader, how many girls were on the Sparkle Team and how many were cheerleaders before the game.  And she said “oh, wow, there is no us and them, we are a team. We are Lancers”.  That was it.  We are a team. 

Manchester High School in Chesterfield, county is simply amazing.  The students get it.  These girls get it.  Not us, but WE.  Watch out world, the young people are going to take this world and turn it upside down.  Because they get it.  That thing that has no words, the way it is just suppose to be. Because we all should be able to cheer because you want to cheer.  Or play football.  Or play volleyball.  At your high school.  And work at the place you want to work, doing the work you want to do.  And it will happen, because of people like the students at Manchester High School.

The Sparkle Effect will glitter and twinkle, showering the world through those clouds, making the moments of clarity, not just moments, but as Emily said, but just how it is.

Go Lancers.


Believe Faith Love 1/16

I have been asked repeatedly how did we “fix Jenna”. Desperate parents asking desperate questions. I could go on and on, about medications, and therapies and such. All the ins and outs of our journey. And I will gladly answer specific questions, just send me an email. Unitedathleticsrva@gmail.com. Between my role as a mother of a special one, and a job as a case manager, I do know how to access services vital to families on this crazy rollercoaster.

But really we didn’t fix her. What we did was remember to believe in her. To have faith that our Jenna was really there all along. And to love her. It really was that simple. And that incredibly, overwhelming, all consumingly difficult.

Believe. Faith. Love.

When we stopped believing in her, we lost sight of Jenna. Because sometimes it was just a brief glimpse of her shining soul. So breathlessly short. That if you didn’t believe that it was there, you would miss it. That quick moment that let us know she was there in the darkness would give us the strength to fight on.

You have to have faith. Faith in something larger than yourself. Whatever you call that higher power. I call it God. Faith in your family, your friends to catch you while you are free-falling, spinning out of control. Faith in your village, because you must have that village. Going it alone just isn’t going to cut it, not when dealing with something so huge as a mental illness. And to realize that this is nothing to be embarrassed about.

To love her. That sounds so simple. But so very hard. Truly loving someone is hard work. Holding firm. Staying strong. Accepting what exists while also encouraging growth. Learning to be strong in your love. Unconditional, unchanging, steadfast Love.

What we have accomplished with this wonderful child was the hardest thing I have ever done. The hardest fight I have ever fought. And will have to continue fighting for the rest of Jenna’s life. To keep her here with us. Knowing that someday, we may to start that journey back again. And again. And again. And again. But to keep on believing, having faith, and loving her.

And it is worth every bit of every moment that it took to get her back again.