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Stories of Challenge and Courage

Trish Downing

My life has definitely been affected by the help I received from The Sporting Woman. I was paralyzed in a motor vehicle accident in September 2000, and one of the things that helped me rehabilitate and accept life after injury was returning to sports. But as a wheelchair athlete, I realized that adaptive sports equipment is much more expensive than the equipment I was used to buying. The SWCF helped me obtain the equipment I needed and get back to competition, and I haven’t stopped since. I credit my participation in the 2016 Paralympic Games to all of the organizations that stepped in to help me as I recovered from my tragic accident and returned to competitive athlete.

Through returning to athletics, I learned that I am stronger than I once thought. I learned that a disability is not a death sentence, but an invitation to do things differently. And I learned that second chances are a wonderful opportunity to improve yourself.


Melissa Oberg Melissa- Inspired

Thank you for believing in my dream and supporting me with the money to get a new pair of boots. The boots were great: sturdy, warm and comfortable, and most of all, they provided me with access to the glaciers on the majestic mountain, Rainier. As I mentioned in my application, I have wanted to climb Rainier for close to a decade.   I have pushed myself on several other expeditions to get to the point where I could Rainier without a guide, and you all helped me pull the final details together to make it possible.  This trip proved to be an excellent blend of adventure, challenge, beauty, and accomplishment.

To highlight a few of these things, I will share a little about the climb. The adventure began in the city, where we struggled through the airport and public transportation in Seattle with all of our luggage. The three duffels were each nearly as large as I, and we made quite the scene on the train and busses. However, we persevered and set the tone for the rest of the trip; this attitude set us up for success in taking on the challenges ahead. When it came time to get to the mountain, we loaded up our gear into backpacks and set off towards basecamp. Each pack weighed about 45lbs and we carried them up 4,000 feet of elevation gain through fields of wild flowers and on to the Muir snowfield. Once we reached basecamp, we were able to look out into the distance and see Mount Adams and Mount St. Helen; the views were stunning. We could see all the way down into the valley where we had been the night before, and see the summit towering above us.

It was a beautiful thing to see the sun rising through the clouds; it was like a dream world from Mars. Everything was bright orange, as the sun blasted through the thick clouds. We embraced as a team and celebrated the accomplishment of reaching the summit together. I was so lucky to have these two amazingly strong women as my partners in this adventure. They truly made the experience for me.

This trip revived a part of my spirit. It reminded me how important it is to set goals, push myself, and pursue connections with friends and nature. All these elements combined made me feel very much alive again. Thank you all for your part in helping me get to the summit of Rainier with warm, happy, stable feet. I literally appreciated the WSCF every step of the way!

Thank you for all you do in supporting women like myself pursue crazy dreams like this!


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Megan Cicchetti

After 19 years of preparation and competition, I was invited to participate in the Shotokan World Championships in Liverpool, England. It was the opportunity of a lifetime, to represent my country and myself on a stage that was bigger than what I ever imagined for myself.  I experienced the nerves that go along with a participating in a competition that has been a personal goal for many years, and taught me to believe in what I know to be true for myself.

I can say wholeheartedly that I can look back at this experience without any regrets or “what ifs”, and that I put everything into my performance.  It was an overall personal best.  Mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically, it was 110%!!!  Being able to live in the moment without and doubt or hesitation is a big accomplishment for me.  It definitely reassured me that I’ve really matured and grown a lot as an athlete.  I’m getting better and more confident with each tournament I go to and I am getting closer to reaching my goal of becoming a world champion.

I thank everyone at The Sporting Woman Community Fund for all of your help during the last few years.  Each year of wins, losses, and lessons is a big step in getting me to where I want to be.


Stephanie Maltarich

My name is Stephanie Maltarich and I feel indebted to the Sporting Woman Community Fund for making my dream of climbing Ecuadorian volcanoes come true. Since 2007 it has truly been a dream of mine to return to Ecuador and learn the skills necessary to climb the glaciated and crevassed peaks.  Without your support I’m not sure if I would have been able to make this trip a reality. In ten short days I feel like I have grown physically, emotionally and mentally.TSWCF Maltarich photo2

For example, one of my goals for the training was to learn the skills necessary to climb glaciated volcanoes, and take those skills forward on my own expeditions. After four full days on the Antisana glacier I have a solid foundation of many useful skills. We spent our days learning about how to walk on glaciers, use crampons, ice axe use, climbing in rope teams, team arrests, how to cross crevasses, ascend a rope, build anchors and so much more! In addition we were lucky to have formal lessons on Ecuadorian weather patterns, glaciology, Acute Mountain Sickness and GPS navigation. Though I need to practice many of the skills before I feel completely confident on my own, I am very happy with the foundation I now have and look forward to advancing my skills more. I am already hoping to plan a trip to climb Mt. Rainier this spring.

Mentally and emotionally this trip was an incredible experience for me as well.  Words cannot express how I felt when we reached the 18,891 foot summit of Antisana at six in the morning. Many months of training and preparation certainly paid off, and I knew that much of the reason I made it to the summit was my internal drive and passion to do so. I will take this with me going forward:  that tenacity and drive within the heart allows one to achieve goals and dreams.

Lastly, this trip inspired confidence. This spring, I had a pretty terrible rock climbing accident where I fell and crushed my ankle resulting in six weeks on crutches and many more on the couch recovering. I wasn’t sure how I felt about climbing after this scary incident. This was sad because climbing has been a huge part of my life and relationships for the past seven years. To not have climbing in my life felt like losing a part of myself,  but the fear I felt towards this pastime was almost unbearable. This trip was like a “rebirth”–I gained confidence in what my body is able to do, pushed fear aside in order to stay focused and achieve goals, and I came back feeling confident and inspired to do more. Though it is a small step, I went to a climbing gym a few days after my return and lead five different climbs. Though it was inside at the gym in a controlled environment, I still felt empowered to be on the sharp end of the rope again, and I am so excited for spring for when I can do it more.

Aside from all of this, I will never forget the relationships and friendships I made with other Outward Bound instructors and my trainers. The sunrises and sunsets, Ecuadorian culture and endless laughter and new experiences will stay with me forever.

THANK YOU!                                              TSWCF Maltarich photo



Anna ArandaAnna Aranda

My name is Anna Aranda and I suffered a spinal cord injury in 2003 at the age 19. I really struggled with coming to terms on how much my life would change after sustaining such a significant injury that left me paralyzed from the chest down. I moved to Colorado in 2005 with my sister and her family. I then had heard of a hospital that specialized specifically in spinal cord and brain injuries called Craig Hospital. It was there I had come across a camp specifically for women living with a disability called Camp Discovery. I was interested but at the same time very hesitant of what to expect out of it.

It was then I had heard about a foundation called The Sporting Woman Community Fund that helps provide financial support to females who want to participate in activities in order improve their lives. I reached out for financial help in order to take part in this camp. I was given the financial support and attend Camp Discovery in the year 2009. I will be forever grateful for this help because this camp completely changed my life for the better.

Before camp I had little hope that I would be able to live a happy and full life because of my disability. This camp proved to me that I was wrong and I met other women who live their lives to the fullest, regardless of their limitations. I made life long friends at this camp and gained the confidence in myself to break down the barriers I had put up. Since then I have participated in numerous sports, and became a peer mentor with the Christopher Reeves Foundation in order to help newly injured individuals adapt to a new lifestyle. I was also crowned Ms. Wheelchair Colorado in 2012 which allowed me to further advocate in breaking down misconceptions people have of individuals with disabilities.

Furthermore, I have gained the independence to move out on my own again since my injury, and relearned how to drive again with the use of hand-controls. I will be forever grateful towards The Sporting Woman Community Fund for helping me attend this camp because it has completely changed my life in many positive ways.