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Athlete uses iron will to help others reach goals

  • Published
  • By Maj. Miki Kristina Gilloon
  • Air Force Reserve Command Public Affairs
An Air Force reservist who completed an Ironman United Kingdom competition last year is using her experiences to help physically disabled individuals realize their full potential.

"For me, the Ironman is an event that has me train, be fit and represent the Air Force in an extraordinary way," said Maj. Kelli Molter, aide-de-camp to the commander of Air Force Reserve Command in the Pentagon. "It also is something that has inspired me to reach out to others, particularly those with disabilities."

Major Molter, together with her friend Colleen Hoar, personally coaches and trains two blind men - Chad Fenton and Philip Ashley - to compete in sporting events.

"Sports have been such a huge breakthrough for all areas of my life," said Major Molter. "My goal for Chad and Philip is to inspire others like them, and recruit and enroll others with disabilities."

With a demanding career, her dedication in helping disabled individuals is unstoppable.

"I make time for it," she said. "For the Marine Corps 10K run, I got up at 5 a.m. It didn't matter that I only got five hours of sleep because I woke up thinking I was going to do something amazing with our blind friends.

"When I'm doing the things I love or if I have a commitment to them, not getting enough sleep is not a problem," she said.

Major Molter also has a passion for helping disabled veterans. She is involved with an organization called the Wounded Warrior Disabled Sports Project, a Maryland-based group that helps severely wounded service members build confidence by involving them in year round sports programs such as snow skiing, biking water skiing, hiking, and rock climbing.

She created a website through the Wounded Warrior Disabled Sports Project and is helping to raise $50,000 under the Team Unlimited Ability website.

The Warrior Disabled Sports Project and the Disabled Sports USA are partners in the Defense Department's America Supports You program.

Major Molter's inspiration to help others stems from her participation in the Ironman race, which she claimed was a turning point in her life after many years of running sprint triathlons and Olympic distances. As she described, she wanted to take on larger commitments at a level of excellence she could be proud of while sharing these experiences with others.

"I wanted to break out of the plateau," she said. "I really wanted to do the Ironman, but thought that the Ironman was not for me but for other people. That is when I realized that it was possible for me."

She endured the challenges of swimming, bicycling and running in excess of 140 miles.

Major Molter completed the race in 13 hours, 54 minutes and 8 seconds, an achievement well ahead of her 15-hour goal.

Achieving breakthroughs in life through sports is a theme that is evident in Major Molter's daily routine as well as in her interaction with Mr. Fenton and Mr. Ashley.

With Major Molter's persistence and training, Mr. Fenton was able to achieve a breakthrough of becoming an athlete who could run. Recently, he successfully completed a mini-super-sprint triathlon and Marine Corps 10K marathon.

"Chad is a man who spent his whole life walking and using a cane," she said. "The real transformation for him was having his feet on the ground without a cane and running. He had to undo 35 years of habit with his feet spread out in order to run, and he did it."  (Air Force Reserve Command News Service)