Four years ago while running the Frederick half-marathon, Kerry Blackmer’s lack of training was catching up with her and she thought about quitting halfway through the race. Then something happened that would impact her for the remainder of that race and future races. “A group of Athletes Serving Athletes ran by me,” Kerry says, recalling that race. “Their energy was so contagious and inspiring! I drafted them all the way to the finish line and then promptly signed up to join.”
Athletes Serving Athletes (ASA) is an innovative athletic program for athletes living with disabilities. The Maryland-based non-profit organization has chapters throughout the state and one in Pennsylvania. The motto “Together We Finish” describes ASA’s approach where volunteer wingmen assist athletes with disabilities in crossing the finish line for running and triathlon events.
Kerry had no prior experience working with people with disabilities but has been a wingman with ASA for four years. She recently participated in Racine MultiSports’ Swim Fest Fort Ritchie, completing the 750-meter swim with athlete Sandra Bell and the rest of the team’s wingmen. It was the first time Kerry participated in Swim Fest but with Sandra’s sights set on the Fort Ritchie Triathlon in August, it seemed like a great training opportunity. Kerry says it’s hard for the team to practice swimming because of the logistics and they wanted to take advantage of this opportunity to swim at Lake Royer in Cascade, Md.