From the sweat dripping down a runner’s back to the endorphins rushing through their veins, racing is an activity many would describe as euphoric, including married couple Chris and Michelle Ray. Knowing how empowering a runner’s high feels, the Ray’s made it their mission to share the unique experience of racing with the disabled community by founding a nonprofit organization, Addie Ray Racing.
The inspiration behind this was Chris and Michelle’s 16-year-old daughter Addie who was born with Angelman Syndrome. After taking her along for her very first race and seeing the joy that it brought her, they knew this was something that needed to be shared with the people of Chattanooga.
While many people plan to retire fully by 65, that dream is not always a reality for everyone. Kathleen Stephens, a resident of Hamilton County, TN, is still a full time certified nursing assistant at the age of 79.
“I still work full time and I thank God for that because I can see what I’m doing, because before I wouldn’t have been able to see,” Stephens said.
“When people tell you to live life to your fullest, you never know what’s going to happen or it can be taken from you in an instant, oh did I really experience that,” Heather Kounthapanya, a senior at UTC said.
If you happen to find yourself deep in the woods of Dunlap, Tennessee, you may come across the smell of burning timber, the peaceful chirping of birds and Steve McBryar wielding his chainsaw, ready to carve his next piece of work.
Chasing a check instead of chasing a dream is a dilemma that many people in corporate America face each and every day. Married couple and owners of CrossFit Brigade in Chattanooga, Eric and Emily Griffith, made a decision many would never dare to do. They quit their corporate jobs to follow their shared passion for fitness.
Practice, weights, conditioning, traveling and on top of it all attending classes and maintaining a good grade point average. Unfortunately, college athletes also have to contend with a higher likelihood of developing an eating disorder.
Lauren Baker is a determined, music-loving dance-like-no-one’s-watching freshman on the women’s volleyball team at The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. However, it was much earlier on during her freshman year of high school in South Bend, Indiana when she began to struggle with her eating disorder.
It was January 8, 2021, when Brooke Harbula became a victim of gun violence, but that was not the day she gave up her power. After being shot during an armed robbery, Harbula’s physical and mental health have suffered, but that hasn’t stopped her from becoming the person she is today.
“I remember asking the paramedics if I was paralyzed because I couldn’t feel my left leg,” Harbula says. “Then it became a sudden realization of death…and how close I was to it.”
After spending 10 days in critical care, she was sent home to begin her journey toward recovery.
From gardening in prison with Martha Stewart to inspiring women in recovery, Kelli Webber has lived many lives throughout her battle with addiction and substance abuse. Webber has taken her painful past as a former alcoholic and drug user and channeled it into a powerful tool to help others.
Like many others, Brayden Guerrette and his older sister Sydney have had their fair share of their mental health struggles since they were young. Back in their hometown of Portland, Maine, during a very intimate exchange on their kitchen floor, Brayden Guerrette finally opened up to his parents and older sister about his dealings with depression.
“We were just sitting there and he was just in tears, and as someone who is watching a family member and someone that they love go through something like that, it’s always very difficult because you don’t know what to do most of the time,” Sydney says. “All you can really do is be there for them continually.”
After this exchange, the Guerrette family took a leap of faith for the sake of their family’s mental health and sold their house, bought an RV and started their journey across the country in hopes of a healthy, fresh start.