Our interview with Deanna McCurdy:
What’s new with you since we last saw you on the cover four years ago?
Over the past four years our Miles for Smiles team has grown to well over 100 teammates in the US, Canada and even as far as Australia. We have travelled and been able to race in some amazing places, including completing a full Ironman in Boulder, Colorado, XTERRA Off-road run and triathlon National Championships in Ogden, Utah, and the XTERRA off-road triathlon World Championships this past November in Maui, Hawaii. Our girls are growing by leaps and bounds. Our sweet Angel, Hayden Grace, now almost 8 years old, is learning how to communicate using an iPad mini with a program called Touch Chat. She is one of the most popular and well-loved kids at her school. We never imagined the adventures we would go on, inspiring people from all over the world we would meet, and how our daughter would not only be included, but would thrive when we first received her diagnosis in 2009. Speaking of adventures, our family took on a new adventure last year when my husband Dave was offered a new job opportunity, relocating us to Littleton, Colo., in the foothills just outside Denver. We are so thankful for social media to help us stay in touch with our Georgia family and friends. We may be half a country away, but our hearts will always be connected to Peachtree City and everyone there.
What’s Colorado like? Was it a big adjustment to move there?
Colorado is so different from Georgia. Some days I pinch myself when I go for a run on the trails out our door and can climb uphill for a brutally painful hour on a narrow, rocky trail, but am rewarded with views of snowcapped 14,000-foot mountains at the top that look like images from a scenic calendar. We are so fortunate to not only have this opportunity to explore and teach our girls about our nation’s great history out west, but also learn about the wildlife, geology, and conservation efforts out here. That being said, it has also been the most challenging year we have worked through. The first year out here was lonely and hard, but our family of four toughed it out, buying snow shovels and boots and navigating the mountains and valleys of the Rockies and life. We miss the warmth of Southerners, the slower pace of life, sweet tea and Partners Pizza, but are truly grateful for this opportunity and try to live each day out here to the fullest.
How is Team Miles for Smiles doing? Do you have any big events that you recently completed or are coming up?
Our Miles for Smiles team is amazing. As many know, our team supports the Foundation for Angelman Syndrome Therapeutics (FAST). FAST is dedicated to raising money and funding research to find therapeutics and ultimately cure AS. This past December, FAST announced that not one or two, but four very promising clinical trials involving individuals with Angelman Syndrome will tentatively be starting by the end of 2016. You can imagine our excitement, not only as parents, but also being able to see firsthand where the fundraising dollars our teammates have raised are going towards. Of course, this motivates us as well to set even higher goals and dream bigger. We (Miles for Smiles) just partnered with Pearl Izumi to create a custom collection of Miles for Smiles running, triathlon and cycling kits and are launching a new campaign where an athlete can be partnered with a child or adult with AS. The athlete can set a race goal and run the race in honor of his or her Angel. Fundraising, of course, is optional, but as we have learned, when you race for someone or something bigger than yourself, the race takes on a whole new meaning. It is sure to be memorable and life changing not only for the athlete, but for the Angel, his or her family, and our wonderfully supportive community as well.
Personally, last year was an unexpected dream come true year. I didn’t have much free time to train, but when every road or trail climbs for miles and miles, the legs and lungs have no other choice but to get stronger. I was able to win my age group at the XTERRA USA Off-road Triathlon National Championships last September and placed 5th at the XTERRA World Championships in Maui a few weeks later. Dave and the girls patiently waited at the finish lines for me to cross as we travelled to weekend races, unless Dave was racing too if we were lucky to have a “racing date.” One day we will learn how to take a vacation that does not involve a race. I tell my girls all the time that as soon as Angelman Syndrome is cured, we will. Hopefully that day will be soon!