After years of struggling to sit still, I was diagnosed with A.D.H.D. (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) at eight years old. Failed prescriptions, struggling grades, and uncontrollable energy levels took a toll on everyone, especially me. At eleven, I began to feel the repercussions of my A.D.H.D. diagnosis becoming increasingly worse than the A.D.H.D. itself. Against my doctor's orders, I opted out of medication altogether. I'd rather be myself, "A.D.H.D." and all.
The next few years proved to be especially difficult. In fact, my grades were so poor that I was on the verge of repeating a year of middle school. With all other options exhausted, my dad - a former bicycle racer, introduced me to the sport of cycling at thirteen years old.
Cycling dramatically changed my life. At sixteen, I was recruited by the United States National Team to represent Team USA around the world, became a multi-time national and state champion, set a United States national record, and competed for my country in multiple World Cups and World Championships. Once I began competing, I accrued an eye-wateringly high number of missed school days. Not even that could keep my high school G.P.A. from skyrocketing to a 4.0 and earning me a spot on the principal’s honor roll. Best part of all, I did it medication free. Take that, doc.
My cycling career opened quite a number of doors for me along the way. In addition to representing sixteen sponsors, I was (for reasons beyond me) featured on energy bar wrappers, television commercials, and magazine spreads. In 2011, I launched the Born Wild Foundation to connect kids with ADHD to sport as an alternative to medication. In 2012, I launched my first cycling accessories brand, ZEN Grips. Hard to believe that a few years prior, I was force-feeding myself ADHD pills in the school nurse's office and couldn't solve basic math to save my life.
After retiring from professional cycling in 2012, I was recruited to join the marketing team by one of my long-time sponsors, Oakley Inc.. Towards the latter half of my tenure at Oakley, a 2014 trip to Israel exposed me to the Gaza-Israel Conflict. Invigorated from the experience, I felt an urgency to tell stories beyond sunglasses - and focus on moving the needle for social justice and environmental change. As fate would have it, I found out a few months later that a few thousand employees and I were being laid off. My last day at the office, November 2, 2015, was spent packing my desk and driving straight to the local camera store with my severance package. Needless to say, I spent it all on camera gear.
Moments That Matter | noun | /mōmənts T͟Hat madər/
An occurrence in which the needle has been moved for social justice and/or environmental change.
In case you were wondering - yes, I still love to ride my bike.