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What's Up Magazine

Towne Salute: Jen Roussillon of Athletes Serving Athletes

Nov 03, 2017 09:00AM ● By Cate Reynolds
By Caley Breese

It’s always a win-win when you can combine passion with purpose. For Jen Roussillon, a love of running and a passion for working with athletes has proven to be that winning combination.

“When I heard about what Athletes Serving Athletes does, it just fit in with my lifestyle,” Roussillon explains. “I was already running; I got to a point where I was like, ‘What am I doing this for?’ I don’t need to make personal records; that’s not what it’s about for me. And so this was a great opportunity for me to keep up with doing some of these crazy, long-distance races, trainings, but to [be able to] provide the legs for someone who provides the heart for me.”

Roussillon grew up in Connecticut and attended Loyola University. She now works as a reading specialist at an elementary school and has been volunteering with Athletes Serving Athletes (ASA) for about four years. Although she lives in Howard County, Roussillon is the Community Coordinator for Anne Arundel County.

“Even though I live in Howard County, they were in need of someone in Annapolis to take over the Anne Arundel County Community Coordinator [position], so I just volunteered myself,” she explains. “When I started … we had three athletes; and two were siblings. And now we have eight [athletes]. We’ve grown in a really short amount of time.”

ASA was founded by David Slomkowski. It was incorporated in December of 2007, but began organizing races in 2008. Since then, the organization, which pairs volunteer athletes and athletes living with disabilities, has grown to serve other areas as well, including Baltimore County, Eastern Shore, Southern Maryland, and South Central Pennsylvania.
A key part of Roussillon’s role as Community Coordinator is facilitation; organizing trainings twice a month, making connections within the community and race directors for outreach purposes, coordinating races, prepping the teams and volunteers for race day, providing race information, and basic networking. Roussillon is also a Wingman captain and helps train the other Wingmen, which are the volunteers who run with the athletes.

Fundraising is an important part as a Wingman. Each volunteer is required to raise a minimum of $350 before their first race. Additionally, Athletes Serving Athletes holds several different fundraising events like a Bull Roast and a 5K run.

“Our biggest race is the ASA 5K in October and it’s usually around Halloween. It’s so much fun,” Roussillon smiles. “Everybody gets dressed up, athletes, Wingmen, captains, parents, and families. It’s awesome. It’s great too because it’s for families, so they have a family fun run and a kids’ run. They even have fall things set up for people to make pumpkins and there’s a DJ. It’s just a lot of fun!”

Roussillon, a proud and busy mother of two children, wants them to learn through her example that her goal of teaching them the significance of helping others and thinking outside of yourself drives her.

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