From her participation in Freshman Service Experience at AU to her job as director of the Achilles Freedom Team of Wounded Veterans, Genna Griffith, CAS/BA ’01, has continually dedicated time and energy to giving back and sharing her talents and gifts with those around her.
When Griffith graduated from AU in May of 2001, she had her heart set on heading to New York City to pursue a career in musical theater. Ten days after arriving in New York, she experienced the traumatic events of 9/11/2001 along with the rest of the country and was forever changed by that day. A short time later, Griffith saw an ad for tryouts for the USO. She tried out, was accepted to the troupe, and within weeks, Griffith was in Korea and Japan on a three week tour.
Her time with the USO exposed Griffith to the work of Achilles International for the first time. Her singing group was performing at the start of an Achilles race. It was her first time witnessing wounded veterans participating in a race. “I was in awe of their strength, determination, and incredible spirit,” Griffith says.
Now, Griffith dedicates her life’s work to providing wounded veterans with an opportunity to participate in marathons all over the country. As director of the Achilles Freedom Team of Wounded Veterans, Griffith recruits a team of wounded veterans to train for marathons as part of their rehabilitation plan. She works with hospitals and physical therapists to identify wounded veterans who are good candidates for the program, then works with the veterans and their families to prepare them for the races. Come race day, Griffith ensures participants and their families are able to travel to the race and have everything they need to make it an unforgettable experience. Additionally, she is responsible for building relationships with the team’s sponsors to enable more veterans to participate in even more races.
Griffith says, “The best part of the work is seeing all the smiles. Getting an enthusiastic email or text from one of the wounded service members or one of their family members after a race is so rewarding. It is such a joyful time for them and I am honored to be able to be a part of it.”
Genna Griffith is the 2012 recipient of the American University Alumni Recognition Award, which recognizes alumni who inspire the world around them through service to the community. She will be honored, alongside the other 2012 Alumni Association award winners at a ceremony during All-American Weekend on October 20.