THE VOICE-TRIBUNE Reports
Aleshia Thompson may not run the Kentucky Derby Festival miniMarathon on Saturday, but sheâ€™s going to complete it.
â€œI might have to pull over to the side and take a break every now and then or a few breaths,â€ she laughed quietly, â€œbut I will not give up. Iâ€™m going to make it to the finish line.â€
Thompson tells herself the same thing each time she feels overwhelmed by a life she has worked diligently to turn around since her involvement with Family Scholar House, an organization that gives impoverished single-parents the support they need to earn a four-year college degree.
Before she was a participant in the program, Thompson â€œwas a little bit lost. I felt like I was just working and working and I wasnâ€™t accomplishing anything. Once I got pregnant I was like, Iâ€™ve got to get my life together â€“ but I didnâ€™t know how.â€
â€œFamily Scholar House has helped me with the entire process and helped me get back on my feet,â€ said Thompson, who has taken the opportunity for all its worth, involving herself in numerous charity endeavors, her church, singing with the Black Diamond Choir and excelling as a student at both Jefferson Community Technical College and the University of Louisville.
The biology major â€“ who plans to transfer fully to UofL soon and intends on becoming a doctor â€“ is also the mother to 2-year-old Trinity.Â â€œSheâ€™s a little young to understand right now, but I hope someday I make her proud.â€
Thompson never envisioned participating in the minimarathon, a 13.1 mile endeavor, but when given the opportunity, she said yes, despite the challenges training presented.
â€œRight now, thinking about the length, it might seem overwhelming. I definitely feel like that sometimes about life. Itâ€™s so overwhelming; can I make it? That is directly symbolic with what Iâ€™m doing with the minimarathon. If I can make it through a mini â€“ something Iâ€™ve never done before â€“ then itâ€™s just motivation to help me make it through my education and into a career.â€
Justin Brown, principal with Marian Development Group and marketing manager for Sidebar, a new restaurant in Whiskey Row, is the captain of the Family Scholar House team and the biggest cheerleader for new runners like Thompson.
Heâ€™s also a fan of Family Scholar House President & CEO Cathe Dykstra. â€œShe is a dynamic leader who is committed to changing lives through education,â€ Brown said. â€œIt might sound corny, but this program has the ability to change the world.â€
That belief is what compelled Brown to rally colleagues, employees, family and friends to participate or at least donate to the teamâ€™s goal of raising $10,000 for Family Scholar House.
Among those who rose to the occasion: Marian Development Group, Louisville Drywall, Bosse Mattingly, National Equity Fund, Blackstone Media, Sidebar and Meridian Acupuncture.
â€œWe all spend a lot of time talking about what we should do,â€ said Brown. â€œWe believe in backing that up with actual actions. In this case, we meant it literally.â€
That effort is incredibly meaningful, said Thompson. â€œI think that itâ€™s amazing that there are a lot of people supporting us and not just with the run. I feel like theyâ€™re supporting us â€“ me â€“ in life, really.â€
Derby Festival Marathon & MiniMarathon
The Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon and miniMarathon, presented by Walmart and HumanaVitality, will be held Saturday, April 27. Start time is 7:30 a.m. The race will start and end near corner of Preston and Main streets.
About Family Scholar House
Family Scholar House is changing lives, families and communities through education. Our mission is to end the cycle of poverty by giving single-parent students the support they need to earn a four-year college degree. For more information, go to www.familyscholarhouse.org or call 502.584.8090.