Aimee Reed’s Light Still Shines
No longer with us, Aimee Reed still inspires (big) donations to TBBCF. Like $10,000 big
By ELLYN SANTIAGO
Though Maria Morin and Jen Massengale have never met, they have a connection. Maria is a business owner, who teaches and coaches in Rhode Island. Jen is a new business owner, who teaches and coaches in Connecticut.
For both of them, Aimee Reed, the renowned college softball player, triathlete hero, and the inspiration for the WE TRI 4 Aimee Reed triathlon team, is an inspiration. Everyone who followed her heroic journey knows how vital she was. Tragically, the too-young breast cancer patient’s hard-fought battle was lost in 2018. Aimee was diagnosed at 31. She died at 34 on August 29, 2018. She would have celebrated her 40th birthday on September 22, 2023.
This year, Jen and Maria hosted, separate, events and promotions benefiting TBBCF in Aimee’s honor.
Maria is Owner/Director of WAVES Softball RI; one of the largest travel ball programs in RI for girls fastpitch softball. This year she hosted the 8th Annual WAVES Charity Classic Softball Tournament in honor of Aimee Reed. In 2022, the WAVES tournament raised $5,000 for TBBCF.
In 2022, Maria also became the Junior Olympic Commissioner USA Softball RI, an annual event hosted by the United States Amateur Athletic Union (AAU). In her second year in this role, she inaugurated a second fundraiser to benefit TBBCF, the 1st Annual Pink Out Days for tournament games played on October 1 and 15 across the state. Players, coaches and spectators were encouraged to wear pink during the games played on those days. TBBCF pink bracelets were sold at the games to help raise money for breast cancer research.
Maria was Aimee Reed’s softball coach at RI College. WAVES Softball RI began fundraising for Aimee Reed and then TBBCF in 2016.
The first WAVES Aimee Reed Charity tournament was held in 2016, and for two years, Aimee Reed received a donation to help defray medical and other expenses while being treated for breast cancer. When she died from the disease in 2018, Morin vowed to continue the tournament and donate the proceeds to the Brodeur Foundation, where Reed had been the honorary 2016 walk chair and chronicled her journey in a series of blogs on the foundation’s website and social media platforms.
“This foundation does such good things, and Aimee spoke so highly of those involved,” Morin said. “The poor girl battled for her life every day, I thought, we could do a tournament to help.”
Each year Maria raises more money than the previous year. This year, as host of two separate events, she hopes to raise more than ever.
A teacher at the Mystic River Magnet School in Groton, Jen is a 25-year fitness instructor and triathlete. She owns Bespoke Cycling, Training, Nutrition Center in the Stonington Velvet Mill. Jen was Aimee Reed’s first triathlon coach at the Mystic Ocean Community YMCA.
Jen co-hosted an inaugural six-month promotion in collaboration with Beer’d at the Velvet Mill in Stonington. She did not have an expectation of raising lots of money during this inaugural year but was committed to raising awareness about breast cancer and helping people learn more about TBBCF.
Then something truly amazing happened.
A friend and fellow triathlete made a $10,000 donation to the Beer’d BESPOKE collaboration.
On what would have been Aimee’s birthday, Peter Zelken donated $10,000 in honor of his mother, Eileen Zelken who was diagnosed with breast cancer earlier this year.
Zelken insisted on getting the donation in the hands of TBBCF on Aimee’s Birthday.
“I became aware of the foundation through Jen Massengale, who I became friends with through triathlon training over the years,” Zelken said. “My mom, Eileen Zelken, had a mastectomy earlier this year and is now in remission and doing well, so the timing was kismet falling on Aimee’s 40th birthday.”