It’s been a little over a year since Mike and Shelly Warner of North Myrtle Beach started the South Carolina Chapter of Ainsley’s Angels, a nonprofit organization that makes it possible for children or adults with disabilities to participate in endurance events.
The S.C. chapter has grown to include 134 angels, who are volunteers that run and push the disabled rider athletes in special wheelchairs.
Just before turning 4 years old, Ainsley Rossiter, a daughter of U.S. Marine Major Kim “Rooster” Rossiter and his wife, Lori, was diagnosed with infantile neuroaxonal dystrophy, a rare terminal illness that causes paralysis. When Ainsley died on February 23, she had touched thousands of lives and inspired love around the world.
“She was only 12, and in that short lifetime she had such a huge impact for a child that never spoke a word or walked a step,” said Shelly Warner. “There’s a tremendous amount of love and commitment to Ainsley and to her family.”
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Starting Ainsley’s Angels of S. C. was one of the best things Mike and Shelly have ever done, Shelly said.
“When you’ve been blessed, it’s time for you to be a blessing to others,” she said.
Their many blessings include the fact that Mike suffered a serious spinal cord injury and recovered enough to walk and to be a guardian in Ainsley’s Angels.
Guardians are volunteers who help make everything possible.
Those involved in Ainsley’s Angels of S. C. are hoping to add more people in all capacities, and are especially hoping to connect with more people with disabilities, so that they can experience the feelings that were obvious on Ainsley’s face when she was speeding along in her racing chair.
The S.C. chapter has been fortunate to partner with several organizations, including Family Connection of S.C., parents helping parents of children with disabilities, developmental delays and chronic illness.
Inspired by Ainsley’s Angels, Family Connection of S.C. started its own series of races. The first one was in Anderson, and 27 rider athletes wanted to compete, but Ainsley’s Angels of S.C. only had 10 chairs.
With the support of other chapters, we were able to pull that race off.
Shelly Warner of the high number of participants and low number of equipment for Family Connection of S.C. race
“With the support of other chapters, we were able to pull that race off,” Shelly said.
They borrowed most of the extra 17 chairs from a North Carolina chapter. They need more chairs, and donations can be made to help acquire them.
Mike and Shelly were at the last race that Ainsley participated in, the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C. last October, where 41 teams of Ainsley’s Angels from across America participated.
Ainsley’s Angels of America and its state chapters are continuing to bring joy to children and adults whose disabilities prevent them from running, and are continuing to focus attention on people with disabilities.
The organization has a large presence on Facebook.
For more about Ainsley’s Angels of America or to purchase racing equipment, visit www.ainsleysangels.org. To donate locally, click on South Carolina, and then Myrtle Beach. For more about the local chapter, to donate or get involved, call Shelly Warner at 910-545-4378.
Peggy Mishoe, firstname.lastname@example.org, 365-3885.