“When all the dust is settled and all the crowds are gone, the things that matter are faith, family and friends.”
— Barbara Bush
A large void was left in Chase Wyles’ life after the unexpected passing of his father, John Wyles, but his extended family, Louisiana State Police troopers (LSP) and members of Ainsley’s Angels, are helping to fill some of that void.
Chase Wyles will be one of many Angel athlete riders participating in the fourth annual Rollin’ On The River, Nov. 2 at Ike Hamilton Expo in West Monroe. The race begins at 5 p.m. and organizers are hoping for 60 Ainsley’s Angels and 300 participants.
During Rollin’ On The River, Chase Wyles will be pushed by LSP who served with his father. John Wyles was a 24-year veteran of the Louisiana State Police, Deputy Command Technician of the Emergency Service Unit and served in several supervisory positions. As a trooper, he received numerous service awards and commendations.
“(John Wyles) had a huge stature that you could see the strength in but there was a whole other side,” said Chris Adams, longtime friend and fellow state trooper. “He had a big heart.”
John Peters, a Louisiana State Police trooper, Ainsley’s Angels runner and friend to John Wyles, agreed with Adams.
“John was selfless and very giving,” Peters said.
Chase Wyles suffers from spinal bifida, a birth defect that occurs when the spine and spinal cord do not form properly. He is quiet but smiles often, especially when remembering his best friend, his father.
“I’m looking forward to running with the State Police,” Chase Wyles said.
Lori Wyles, Chase’s mother, is looking forward to the race and Chase being with his extended family - the Louisiana State Police.
“I’m excited about this race, and we get to meet new people,” said Lori Wyles. “I’m excited (Chase) is running with the State Police. We always want to be part of the State Police family.”
Rollin’ On the River is one of the two Ainsley’s Angels race series in Louisiana. Racers from Louisiana, Mississippi and possibly Arkansas and Texas will be participating in the race.
“This is our single, largest fundraiser,” said Alana Sandidge, Ainsley’s Angels Ambassador to Northeast Louisiana. “Participants will have a chance to talk to other parents and riders and hopefully form a bond. Many times (participants) will walk away exchanging cell phone numbers and e-mail addresses.”
“There are a lot of special things going on during this race,” Sandidge said. “We are very happy the State Troopers are going to be with us. Chase is going to get to roll for the first time.”
Ainsley’s Angels is a nonprofit group whose goal is for everyone, including those with special needs, to be able to experience endurance events. Additionally, the group wants to build awareness about America’s special needs community through inclusion in all aspects of life. Members of Ainsley’s Angels serve as advocates to provide education and participate as active members in Franklin Parish and throughout the United States.
Ainsley’s Angels group is made up of an Angel Athlete-rider, Angel Runners and Guardian Angels.
An Angel Athlete-rider is anyone with a disability that prevents them from racing on their own. There is no fee to register to become an Angel Athlete-rider. On race day, organizers fit each rider for a chair to use during the event and pair them with an Angel Runner. Members of the group said athletes “roll with the wind” on race day.
An Angel runner is an athlete pushing the Angel Athlete-riders. New Angel runners are placed with an experienced and similar-paced Angel runner for their first few races which ensures the safety of the athlete-riders and gives the Angel runner an opportunity to become familiar with the equipment.
Guardian Angels are the glue that holds the “family” together. Guardian Angels assist all Angels and Ambassadors in races.
Ainsley’s Angels is named after Kim “Rooster” and Lori Rossiter’s daughter who was diagnosed with Infantile Neuroaxonal Dystrophy (INAD) just as she turned four-years-old.
John Wyles always wanted Chase to participate in Ainsley’s Angels, Lori Wyles said. The duo were first introduced to the organization at Franklin State Bank’s annual Special Needs Christmas Party.
“John was a wonderful person, a wonderful friend and friend to Franklin State Bank,” said Susan Russell with Franklin State Bank. Lori Wyles also works at Franklin State Bank.
“We are excited about Chase doing this, and we are excited to be a part of it. We are ready to take Chase wherever he wants to go,” Russell said.
With his participation in Rollin’ On The River, Chase is now fulfilling his father’s wish, staying connected with his extended family, making new friends that will hopefully fill some of the void.