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Turning Training into Giving

Inspired by disabled athletes, Roswell's Lisa Simmons climbs to new heights

Roswell Lifestyle: You have made your home in Sentinel on the River. How did you land in Roswell?

Lisa Simmons: My husband Steve and I were newly married and looking for a home. We looked at about 60 homes all over North Fulton County and none were quite right. Then we found Sentinel on the River, a beautiful community adjacent to the Chattahoochee River and acres of forest. We stumbled upon a homeowner who had to sell her house because she was moving soon. As soon as we walked in, we fell in love and knew it perfect.     

RL: BlazeSports America is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization formed as the legacy organization of the 1996 Paralympic Games held in Atlanta. The organization provides programming in adaptive sport, recreation, and physical activity to Georgia’s youth, adults, veterans and military personnel with physical disabilities and PTSD. We love that you were inspired to help them as you were planning for your 2018 hike in the Grand Canyon. Why did you decide to jump on board to raise money and awareness for them?

LS: I personally believe that by giving back I have become a better, kinder and more humane person. You know the verse, “it’s better to give than receive.” It’s so true. Our role in life isn’t just to serve ourselves. It’s to find a higher calling that gives our lives meaning and purpose through service. When I see the BlazeSports participants – many of whom are confined to wheelchairs – I feel completely in awe of them and their disregard for their physical challenges. Here are children and veterans who could easily stay home and feel sorry for themselves, but they don’t. In fact, they have better attitudes than a lot of able-bodied people I know – including me! The point is, I get more out of volunteering than just about anything else.

RL: You just hiked in Machu Picchu. Your longtime trainer, Marwane Balde worked with you and you would climb Stone Mountain for six to eight hours, going up and down multiple times, carrying a 35-pound backpack. That’s intense! What mantra did you use to keep going?

LS: Marwane is one of the best trainers in north Fulton and I’m lucky I found him. He pushes me to do whatever it takes to successfully finish my hikes including the most recent one to Machu Picchu, one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World according to National Geographic. The Andes Mountains are among the most beautiful I’ve ever been to and when you see what the Inca people built in the 1400’s – it is nothing short of miraculous. Everyone should go see it.  As far as training, I usually work out twice a day when I’m getting ready for a big hike. I’m currently training for Aconcagua (South America’s tallest summit at 22,000 feet above sea level). I’m usually tired, so my motto is “Do it tired!”   

RL: We all love coming home to Roswell.  When you get home from a trip, what do you look forward to sipping, eating, shopping for in Roswell?

LS: Virtually every morning on the way to and from work, I take a slow drive down Riverside Road to admire the beauty and serenity of the river park. It never feels like I live in the middle of a major city when I walk or drive that road. Of course, we love Canton Street and the historic district. Roswell is the place to be.

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