Positive Publicity readers, please welcome an especially special person to the blog. Introducing 2019’s Be Well Philly Health Hero Challenge Winner, Amanda Piccirilli-Hall. After months of hard work and thousands of votes, Amanda was awarded this title and gifted $15,000 from Philly Mag and Independence Blue Cross for the charity she supports, Ainsley’s Angels. Determined, strong and generous – these are just three words out of thousands I could use to describe Amanda.
Amanda and I have a personal connection, which makes this Be Well Philly collab all that more exciting. I met Amanda through another incredible human – the wonderful and talented Paige Knapp. Amanda and Paige are PR experts, and I’m privileged to know them both. I began following Amanda on Instagram soon after our meeting (hit her with that follow, you won’t regret it), and was immediately in awe of her.
I recently ran into Amanda, and I had one question for her: “How do you have time to do it all?”. This woman does it all. Between working a full-time job as a killer publicist, training as an athlete, being an active volunteer, and just living life, she somehow gets it all done. Oh, and it’s also certainly worth noting that Amanda competed in her first Ironman this year. So yes, I’m pretty excited to be interviewing her for this week’s FemFocused article.
Congratulations on being the 2019 Be Well Philly Health Hero! How does it feel?
I am still completely in shock that any of this has happened… is this real life? Pinch me! But it all really soaked in when I walked downstairs the Wednesday after the event and that big check was in my living room looking right at me. The Saturday after the Be Well Philly event, our Ainsley’s Angels ambassadorship had a local 5k race and I brought the check with me to share with them and take a photo because it’s not just me, it’s our entire angel family who made this happen. I of course cried like a baby, thanking them all because this organization gives me all the feels. I’m beyond thankful for this opportunity and my friend Pam Batemen who submitted me for this award. It’s crazy to learn what other people see in you when you don’t see it within yourself.
What does Ainsley’s Angels of America support?
Ainsley’s Angels aims to build awareness about America’s special needs community through inclusion in all aspects of life. Our angel family serves as advocates, providing education and become active members of our local communities sharing the message that we believe everyone deserves to be included. The organization pairs able-bodied runners with those who would not be able to complete an endurance race without assistance. As of today, Ainsley’s Angels has 70 ambassadorships across 33 states and the District of Columbia with all individuals involved being volunteers.
How did you become involved with Ainsley’s Angels of America?
In 2014, Facebook group called I Run 4, which pairs runners with individuals who have special needs, through Facebook – it’s pretty much a Facebook pen pal group where all of your runs are decided to this special person and you post with fun photos and videos. In August 2014, I was paired with my buddy, Liam, who lives in Ireland. Fast forward to October 2015 and I typed up a long email to a guy named Kim “Rooster” Rossiter who is the president of Ainsley’s Angels. I followed what the organization does for well over a year on the IR4 page, and I needed some help I knew he could assist me with. It was my dream to travel to Ireland and race with Liam, me lending my legs, him experiencing his first race ever. Three hours later, an incoming call from Virginia Beach popped up on my iPhone, and my life forever changed. Before I knew it, a racing chariot was being shipped to my house for my trip to Ireland, and I was named the southeast Pennsylvania ambassador for Ainsley’s Angels of America. It was the best phone call of my life and has forever changed me.
Why is this organization so important to you?
Never in my life have I found a community of individuals who are more accepting, loving and motivating then my Ainsley’s Angels family. Whether someone lives in California, Oregon, or Louisiana, whether someone is able-bodied or lives with a disability, we all have one thing in common: we eat and breath inclusion. Days when I want to have a pity party over something minimal, I immediately think of the daily hardships our riders and their families face regularly. Days when I don’t feel like lacing up my sneakers or jumping in the pool, I never forget that someone else who is physically unable to do the fitness activities our society takes for granted is wishing they were in my shoes for just one minute, on mile, one lap. This group has motivated me more than they will ever know and because of that, I promise to never let our Southeast PA family down.
You do SO much, and this is a question I’ve asked you before – how do you find the time to do it all?
I get asked this question a lot and the short answer, you make time for the things that fuel your fire. Commuting to Center City from Lansdale to work my full-time job takes up a large chunk of my day and add in training for endurance events (I completed my first IRONMAN this year), volunteering with Ainsley’s Angels, being a good wife and friend, and still having a social life is challenging. But at the end of the day, time management is key and I only include things in my day that bring me joy and help me become the best version of myself. For some people, binge watching Netflix or going out for cocktails in the city is what brings them joy. But for me, those are wasted hours in which I could be bettering myself, and others, both mentally and physically. I GET to do these things and will continue until I no longer am able.
What’s next for you?
For anyone who knows me, they know I love a challenge, setting goals and crushing them. I’m a believer if you want something bad enough, you do whatever it takes a to make it happen. The big goal for 2020 is for me to do a triathlon with a rider athlete. After completing my IRONMAN in September, it made me realize that I want an Ainsley’s Angels rider to join in on this journey with me and experience the joy of triathlon. So I’m eyeing up a sprint triathlon in spring/summer 2020.
Congratulations Amanda, you are beyond deserving for this recognition! And thank you Be Well Philly for this collab opportunity.