Love at First Bike
We’d like to share a story with you. It begins in Atlanta and it ends, well…we’ll tell you more about that soon.
Maggie Frederick, one of our long-time participants, first connected with Catalyst at an adaptive climbing event in Atlanta in 2014.
Although she continued to climb, in 2020, Maggie fell in love with mountain biking. Her face illuminates when she describes being on the trails.
“Getting into the woods isn’t something we get to access daily,” she says. “It is the most healing place.”
This year, 68 participants have mountain biked with Catalyst during 18 events in 4 cities and 4 states.
For some, it is their first time on a bike. Others are more experienced athletes who hone their skills with a new community and sometimes discover new aspects of themselves while riding in places like Asheville, Knoxville, Chattanooga and beyond.
“Catalyst has helped me transition positively in my life. Mountain biking on the trails helped me grow…and helped me become more confident in myself. It has been life-changing.”
In 2020, Maggie knew Catalyst had impacted her life. What she didn’t know is that a year later, rain would cancel a mountain biking event in Asheville and a certain fellow athlete would take the initiative to make sure they got onto the trails together. It was the first ride of many to come…
Love at First Laugh
As a lifelong athlete, Brad Smith knows how to stay focused and pursue his goals. On the road, on the trail, in school, (Brad is a high school counselor), and in life, he embodies determination, commitment and follow-through.
Brad’s first engagement with Catalyst Sports was in 2012, but it was in 2020 when he began mountain biking and accessed the wilderness through adaptive sports. Having spent nine years road racing, Brad found a love for the trails and now attends every Catalyst mountain biking event he can.
Through Catalyst experiences, first-time and veteran athletes like Brad are exposed to the beauty of the trails while developing the strength and endurance it takes to ride them.
“Catalyst introduces sports to people who might not otherwise have the opportunity,”
He is grateful for Catalyst for another reason - it’s how he met Maggie.
Hidden behind masks, as many of us were in 2020, it was Maggie’s eyes and her laugh that Brad remembers most about meeting her in Atlanta. A year later, they went on their first date in Asheville which included mountain biking with Catalyst volunteer, Matt Kirby. The adventures of Maggie and Brad had only just begun.
Love from the Trail
“Maggie is more competitive than Brad,” Catalyst volunteer, Matt Kirby said. “Brad is easygoing. Both of them are always willing to hang on for the adventure!”
In 2021, Kirby guided Maggie and Brad on their first mountain biking date in the woods of North Carolina, exploring trails he hadn’t yet ridden with adaptive athletes. “They were up for anything,” Matt recalls.
A series of life events, including fixing a prosthesis with a bike derailleur cable while volunteering in Honduras, led Kirby to become a prosthetist orthotist. His profession, combined with his passion for mountain biking made partnering with Catalyst a seamless and transformative endeavor. He has volunteered with us for five years and is currently the Mountain Bike Coordinator for our Asheville Chapter.
“My experiences with Catalyst have always been rewarding. Not only are we providing access for people to enjoy adventure sports, but I get to share things that I’ve accessed throughout my life with people who are in the forest for the first time. It tugs at my heartstrings.”
Today, Maggie, Brad and Matt are close friends. They ride together during Catalyst events and enjoy each other’s company outside of mountain biking too. Next year, Matt is accompanying Maggie and Brad for another significant moment - but that’s for our next email.
In the meantime, we’d like to share with you that next January, Kirby will be our full-time Adaptive Mountain Bike Director! We are thrilled to welcome him to our staff.
Catalyst couldn’t be successful without volunteer support. Whether belaying our athletes, joining us on a paddle or signing up for a group ride, we welcome anyone who is inclined to share their skillset and excitement for the outdoors with us.
If you are interested in building community and engaging in unforgettable experiences outdoors, consider volunteering with Catalyst. The part you play in someone else’s story could be life-changing.
a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.
a thing that may be chosen or done out of several possible alternatives.
Our Catalyst love story concludes with a new beginning.
You’ve met Maggie, a versatile athlete who has dedicated much of her life to sports and youth. You’ve met Brad, an outstanding sportsman and high school counselor who discovered his love of mountain biking through Catalyst. You now know Maggie and Brad spent one of their first dates mountain biking with Catalyst volunteer, Matt Kirby and soon fell in love.
Since the beginning, Maggie and Brad have been open to possibility. As individuals and now as a couple, they choose to try different sports, meet new people, trust volunteers, participate in Catalyst events and make life-long connections.
None of this - Maggie and Brad’s love story, city-to-city tours and countless accessible adventures - would be feasible without you, our Catalyst community.
Thank you for your willingness and courage to support our vision and believe in us. Because of your impact, hundreds of athletes with disabilities can participate in sports and access the outdoors.
As for Maggie and Brad? Their story has only just begun. In November of 2024, they will be married on the Blue Ridge Parkway, not too far from where they went on their first date and close to where Brad proposed to Maggie last October. They will have a Catalyst-themed wedding with Kirby as their witness and our Founder, Eric Gray as the officiant.
“After all,” Brad said, “Catalyst was our catalyst.”
Thank you for helping us create possibility.
Adaptive mountain bikes cost anywhere from $7k to $20k, leaving the sport unavailable to most athletes with physical disabilities. With your contribution, more athletes can have more experiences outside!