Major Kim “Rooster” Rossiter, USMC is the President and co-founder of Ainsley’s Angels of America. Named for his daughter, the organization seeks to ensure everyone can experience endurance events such as marathons and aims to build awareness about America’s special needs community through inclusion in all aspects of life, by promoting awareness, providing education, and participating as active members in local communities.
Born in 2003, Rooster and Lori’s daughter Ainsley was diagnosed with Infantile Neuroaxonal Dystrophy (INAD) just before turning four years of age. INAD is an extremely rare, terminal illness that has slowly caused global paralysis. Ainsley has become progressively less responsive to stimulus the last few years, but is still aggressively fighting her rapidly progressing illness. There are less than 10 active cases of early-onset INAD known in the United States and most children with this diagnosis pass on before reaching 10 years of age as there is no cure or treatment to help slow down this very progressive and terminal disease.
Many families splinter when faced with such adversity – the natural instinct to flee is very well documented. Together with Ainsley, his wife and their other two children, Rooster discovered running and marathoning. The sport brought “normal” to their lives, connected them as a family, and actually took them on exciting new adventures.
When Ainsley participated in her first jog at a local road race in 2007, she gave a radiant wind-induced smile that anyone would envy. In an instant, running provided Rooster’s family with a therapeutic means to fight the devastation associated with trying to live with the fact that sweet Ainsley has a terminal illness.
Her smile on the race course, the positive energy surrounding the start line, the other rider athletes and pushers smiling from ear to ear, the togetherness of every member preparing to ‘roll with the wind’, the fearlessness of the athletes, the normalcy of the family, and the love everyone shares – all of it offers therapy like nothing else! Ainsley has now competed in over 80 road races, including 15 half-marathons and the 2011 2013, and 2014 Marine Corps Marathons in Washington, D.C. Ainsley’s sister, Briley, has joined her for over 30 of these races and the family has discovered first-hand the therapeutic benefits of race participation … not only for Ainsley, but for her entire family!
Ainsley has inspired the writing of a children’s book by her sister (“Born an Angel” by Briley Rossiter), the Ainsley’s Angels of America Foundation, and the creation of over a dozen 501(c)(3) public charities. The public charities offer athletic ride-along programs created for children, teens, adults and veterans who would not be able to experience endurance events such as triathlons or road races on their own. Run entirely by volunteers, the charities provide jogger chairs, bike trailers and rafts for anyone who is disABLED (Known as Captains) and able-bodied runners (Known as Angels) to participate in endurance events as a team.
Rooster speaks nationally, sharing his family’s story of staying together, finding normal and thriving in the midst of the challenges of disability management, the stress of caregiving, and the loss of “normal” family activities. A Major in the United States Marine Corps, Rooster also serves as Executive Director to all of the Ainsley-inspired public charities and is an expert in non-profit start-ups.