FAST Athletes is a Cure Angelman Now (CAN) program led by high class athletes in the Angelman syndrome community who help support the mission of FAST through various health and wellness initiatives. The goal of this program is to empower the community to believe in the impossible for themselves and their loved ones with Angelman syndrome. With empowerment comes energy and strength to build awareness around Angelman syndrome and raise funds towards a cure.
These individuals together bring professional expertise and experience in a wide variety of health and fitness arenas such as diet and nutrition, strength training, triathlons, biking, golf, rugby, and a professional bikini competitor! They are excited to help the community in the following ways:
Deanna received her bachelor’s degrees in Exercise Science and Physical Therapy from the University of Evansville. She currently practices as a licensed massage and neuromuscular therapist, and is a USA Triathlon Level I and USA Cycling Level II certified coach. As a former Division I collegiate runner, she expanded into the sports of triathlon, trail running, and mountain biking after her youngest daughter, Hayden Grace, who lives with Angelman Syndrome, was diagnosed in 2009. Deanna is a World Champion XTERRA off-road triathlete, 7-time overall amateur XTERRA PanAmerican and National Champion, and most recently placed 2nd at USA Cycling Mountain Bike Nationals and won the co-ed women’s division of the Breck Epic, a 6-day mountain bike stage race which takes place in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. Deanna’s biggest joy is to not only spread awareness of Angelman syndrome through her racing, but to encourage, motivate and inspire others to set goals and train as they tackle new challenges, and create healthy lifestyles so they can take care of themselves and their loved ones with AS. Deanna and her family live in Littleton, Colorado.
Meet Deanna: https://youtu.be/BkigMi82ph4
Rhian’s focus is to create a model that serves and improves the world we share. She serves as a VIP trainer and as an ambassador of Health and Performance in the UAE. She has earned accolades such as the UAE Personal Trainer of the year, has received an award of excellence in health and fitness, authored a book to support new mums with their health journey, and is a professional bikini competitor. She has also competed in international sports competitions for bodybuilding around the world, has represented Wales, her home country, in Rugby and has taken teams on trekking expeditions to Kilimanjaro. Rhian currently resides in Dubai and has two children, her son, Samson lives with Angelman syndrome.
Meet Rhian: https://youtu.be/GyELdfuRYcA
Dan is a carpenter living in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada. After many years as a high performance athlete in both hockey and long track speed skating, Dan and his wife Tara moved back home to Peterborough so Dan could finish school and they could start a family. Dan currently works part time as a carpenter and part time at a bike shop which gives him the ability to set his schedule around the lives of his kids Teddy and Sawyer. Dan and Tara’s daughter Sawyer lives with Angelman Syndrome.
Meet Dan: https://youtu.be/TU3ljpzRbT4
Jon is an avid marathoner and cyclist and when he is not exercising, he is an anesthesiologist in Melbourne. A long distance runner since his high school days, he continues to challenge himself physically and mentally, using Noel, his son who lives with AS, as his inspiration. As a FAST Athlete, Jon hopes to use running to advocate for the community, share educational tips and best practices when it comes to running, and connect with everyone, especially the dads!
Exercising keeps Amelia sane and healthy both mentally and physically. In high school Amelia represented the US on an international soccer team that competed in tournaments across Europe. At university she wanted a different challenge so she started running marathons. In her 20s Amelia ran 10 marathons on 7 continents. The demands of having a child who lives with Angelman syndrome are stressful and time consuming so after having kids Amelia cut back her running miles and now incorporates pilates and yoga into her fitness routine. Amelia has found that challenging her body every day helps her be a better mother, wife, friend and professional. She is passionate about the power of food to positively (or negatively) affect our bodies and minds. Amelia lives in Amman, Jordan with her husband and their three active sons. Her youngest son, Orion, lives with Angelman syndrome and is an incredible athlete himself!
Meet Amelia: https://youtu.be/NRvuM7yRTQc
FAST Athletes want to connect with you to help you bring awareness to Angelman syndrome and achieve your personal fitness goals. To connect with a FAST Athlete, fill out the form below and they will reach out to you.
Check out some fun ways the FAST Athletes leverage their athleticism to support FAST’s mission and videos you can do at home with them! Join us using #FASTAthletesCAN and let’s get stronger together!
A former Division I cross country and track athlete, but not reaching her full potential until her late 30’s and 40’s, Deanna has spent most of her adult life chasing finish line goals and inspiring others through her love of running, cycling, outdoor adventuring, and the sport of triathlon. She and her husband/ training/adventuring parter, David, have 2 beautiful girls, Hailey (age 16) and Hayden Grace (age 14).
Deanna started her triathlon journey after her youngest daughter, Hayden, was diagnosed with Angelman Syndrome in 2009 — Deanna’s “why” behind her drive in sport. Her passion to use her talents to help spread awareness and raise money to cure Angelman Syndrome has become something far greater than she ever imagined it would be. She founded Team Miles for Smiles, a fundraising running/ triathlon team for The Foundation for Angelman Syndrome Therapeutics (FAST) in 2010 and later her coaching business, Wings to Fly Racing, to help others overcome life’s challenges and strive for athletic goals they once thought impossible. Over the past 12 years, Miles for Smiles has raised over $150,000 for FAST, crossed countless finish lines, and changed lives with their inspirational message of believing with passion and purpose, anything is possible… including curing Angelman Syndrome.
Deanna has raced professionally as an off-road triathlete and mountain biker, is 3-time USA Triathlon OffRoad Triathlete of the Year, XTERRA age group World Champion, and was the Top American, placing 4th overall Amateur at the XTERRA World Championships in Maui in 2017 and 2018. She also won Overall Female at the XTERRA panAm/National Championships in 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2nd Overall in 2021 (the year of the duathlon). In 2019, her top result racing in the Elite field was 2nd Overall at XTERRA Quebec. She has also competed in the Ironman 70.3 World Championships, Ironman Boulder, was 2nd overall female at the Snickers Marathon, and placed in the Top 5 Overall at ITU Cross Worlds in Penticton, Canada.
In August 2022, Deanna took on her biggest athletic challenge yet: competing in the Breck Epic, a 6-day mountain bike stage race that takes place every year in Breckenridge, Colorado. The race begins and ends at 10,000 feet elevation and over the course of 6 days, traverses over 240 miles of rocky singletrack trail and contains over 40,000 feet of climbing (and descending). For Deana, the race serves as a metaphor for raising a child with AS: from tough beginnings to grueling climbs, navigating technical descents only to face another steep climb… but with strength and perseverance, the daily mountains can be conquered and the finish line, which at one time seemed far and unattainable, grows closer and closer with every pedal stroke. Read more about Deanna racing in the Breck Epic here.
I’m a Special Needs Mum, Camel rider and Advanced exercise specialist.
For almost two decades my focus has been creating a model that serves and improves the world we share. Recently awarded UAE Personal Trainer of the Year for 2018 and 2020 and silver in 2022 I have spent the last 17 years working with mothers, children, sports teams and members of the royal family on programs that enable people to lead happier, healthier lives.
I am actively involved in the Health and Fitness industry in the UAE and a proud ambassador of Reps and I Tutor a range of Fitness and CPD courses for Gold Award winning Fitness Provider Bodyhack.
I regularly publish health and wellness articles and am eagerly waiting on the publishing of my new book – beautiful bump to bulletproof body, due to be released this Summer 2022!
I am based in Dubai, originally from the UK and have competed in international sports competitions for bodybuilding in Australia, Iceland, Belgium, the UK and the UAE. I have also represented Wales my home country in Rugby and taken teams on trekking expeditions to Kilimanjaro.
16 months ago my son was diagnosed with Angelman Syndrome, a rare genetic disease affecting 1 in 15,000 babies. When we received Samson’s diagnosis of ‘Angelman Syndrome’ I had never heard of it.
For something caused by chance on conception it could not sound any worse… severe developmental delay, intellectual disability, sleep disorders, inability to EVER talk-even a word, life debilitating seizures, suppressed immunity and swallowing issues. As you can imagine our life came to a halt, the diagnosis followed with a lot of grieving.
One year following diagnosis we have had 8 hospital stays (the longest being 28 days in intensive care for the whole of April 2021 where we nearly lost our beautiful son), hundreds if not thousands of seizures, a tube fitted into his stomach to consume water, a guessing game at his needs and many upon many nights with no sleep.
Its been a very difficult journey for myself, husband and daughter, but I know that this is part of my calling and purpose alongside my role as a fitness professional, I’m going to chose to step up to my calling Gods put on my life and have hope for Samson’s future, and ours as a family, believing there is no limit on Samson’s future abilities and doing our best to live a full and happy life.
My biggest achievement this year has been staying mentally and physically healthy for my family, my two children and for my clients, exercise and good nutrition choices are in a way therapy and empowering ways that help us all manage life trials and turmoil. if there’s one thing that the previous 12 months have taught us all, its that fitness extends so much more than the physical realm and maintenance of a bodily shape. It encompasses the mental, emotional + spiritual existence too which are all required to battle the many highs + lows of life, from, sickness, to the unknown, to spontaneous vacations to even surprise pregnancies! I have focused more on educating empowering and equipping my clients more than ever before and I am immensely proud of the enthusiasm and eagerness to become the best they can be in health and life.
I competed in the Spartan World Championships at the end of this year, I knew that with my training history, skills and what I had been through the last 12 months that I would successfully complete the 21k run over the highest sand dunes in the world, and I finished the race in 5 and a half hours to finish in 8th place in my category and have taken first place in regional spartans, alongside this I have been awarded Advanced Exercise Specialist Award and Silver Award for Personal Trainer of the Year.
My philosophy is that we can live and achieve our best life through active living and through moving, nourishing and believing.
Hi I’m Ollie, I’m from the UK, living in Dubai with my wife and two children, Seren who is 4, Samson who is 2.
I am actively involved in the Health and Fitness industry in the UAE, I’m a passionate golfer and a proud ambassador of Under Armour and Fitness Feedz. My profession is a strength and conditioning coach and I work with top tier athletes. I have travelled all over the world to play and represent my country in Rugby having represented Wales, England, Great Britain and professional sports clubs in the UK.
Samson our son, was diagnosed with Angelman syndrome in 2020 after we discovered he was missing major milestones and so we started our mission of finding out what was missing it turns out to be a small gene off chromosome 15 and a diagnosis of Angelman syndrome. Our lives came to a halt on the day of diagnosis and to say it has been tough is an understatement.
After plenty of months of grieving and more than 8 admittances for hospital care last year we have reached a place of peace and happiness and feel so much joy in having Samson in my life.
We are passionately raising awareness and funds for the research FAST Is doing to find a cure for our children. I currently run the Crown Prince’s fitness facility and health club here in Dubai which puts me in a fortunate position to meet, greet and train VIPs, celebrities, and work with Top Tier athletes and sports stars, all of whom have shown support to FAST, my son and our life changing diagnosis and their signed memorabilia has helped raise an incredible amount through auctions and online raffles.
I think it is so important for us as FAST athletes to show that we can still achieve amazing things but also support FAST through our sport and athleticism by promoting the incredible work FAST is doing and spreading the news worldwide!
I’ve spent the bulk of my life as a high performance athlete, both as a hockey player and a long track speed skater. In doing so I’ve learned many lessons along the way – how to persevere, follow a plan, be adaptable when plan gets derailed, and when to work hard vs. when to work smart. All of these lessons have almost acted as a grooming period, preparing me for the day when our little girl, Sawyer, was diagnosed with Angelman Syndrome. In an instant, our idea or vision of what our lives were going to be like with our kids changed, and we had to adapt and find a different path. FAST was the first foundation I came across that I felt a strong connection with. FAST is adaptable, determined, open-minded, forward-thinking, and fighting day in and day out for our kids. I’m honoured to be part of the FAST Athlete Ambassador group. It will give us all a great outlet to do what we love while supporting and raising awareness and funds as they accelerate research to bring effective therapeutics to all individuals living with Angelman syndrome.
Main Goals in the next year:
My name is Amelia and I am honored to be a FAST Athlete! I’m American but live in Amman, Jordan. I have 3 sons and my youngest, Orion, is 7 years old and lives with Angelman syndrome (AS). Exercising has kept me sane throughout the stress and intensity of having a child with AS. I’ve found that keeping my body strong improves my mood and helps give me a more positive outlook. It also helps me keep up with Orion, who is very strong and very active. Doing a hard workout first thing in the morning gives me patience and focus for whatever challenges may present themselves during the day.
I have always been really athletic. While in school I represented the US in an international soccer league playing tournaments throughout Europe. During university I started running marathons and decided I wanted to run a marathon on every continent. Before having kids I had run 10 marathons and countless half marathons. Once I gave birth to my first son I found I didn’t have the time or energy to dedicate to running long distances. In addition, when Orion was born I was so exhausted from the sleep disturbances that running made my body feel even worse. I decided to cut back my miles significantly and add in more Pilates and yoga, which have helped me stay strong as well as sane in the intense lifestyle of having a child with Angelman syndrome.
As an athlete I know how important diet and nutrition are to our bodies. Food has the power to give us energy, stamina and focus or make us tired, irritable and bloated. Orion has been on the Low Glycemic Index Treatment diet since he was 18 months old and we see how much this diet helps regulate his brain and control his seizures, while also keeping him healthy and strong. Orion certainly takes after his parents as he is also very athletic! He loves to run, climb, hike, swim and roller skate.
The work FAST is doing as the global leader in accelerating research to bring effective therapeutics to Orion, Samson, Hayden, Sawyer and all people living with Angelman syndrome is absolutely incredible and I am honored to be a part of it. Since Orion’s diagnosis in 2016, I have been a top CAN (Cure Angelman Now) fundraiser. I understand how important parent fundraisers are in helping FAST move forward in its mission of curing Angelman syndrome and I am excited to continue my efforts as a FAST Athlete.
I hope that as a FAST Athlete I can inspire other Angelman parents to be strong and healthy for their child as well as to challenge their child with Angelman syndrome to also be strong and healthy, even now as we look to the near future, when effective therapeutics for Angelman syndrome will be available, thanks to the work that FAST is doing!