The Rite Aid Foundation created the KidChamp Award in 2017 to recognize individuals in communities served by Rite Aid who have made a meaningful difference in the lives of youth by advocating for their health and wellbeing, championing education and academic growth and creating a safe environment for children and teens to live and grow. Followay is the fourth recipient to receive the award.
“Lisa exemplifies the mission of KidCents by giving kids in need the opportunity for better lives and brighter futures,” said Scott Bernard, senior vice president of Rite Aid’s Mid-Atlantic Division and member of The Rite Aid Foundation Board of Directors. “Thanks to Lisa’s dedication and her leadership at ASPO, children with disabilities from across Ohio now have the opportunity to play sports, which benefits them physically, mentally and academically. Lisa has paved the way for inclusion, and we are pleased to recognize her as the latest recipient of our KIDCHAMP Award.”
As the mother of a disabled child, Followay realized the importance of sports early in her son Casey’s life. When the family moved to Ohio, Followay found very few options for Casey. She then decided to create opportunities for children like Casey by founding ASPO in 2009.
Over the last nine years, Followay has grown ASPO into the largest adaptive sport organization in Ohio, serving more than 300 individuals in six cities through 10 sports, including basketball, sled hockey and track.
“It is truly an honor to receive the KidChamp Award and I’d like to thank The Rite Aid Foundation and KidCents for helping all of us at ASPO continue our important work,” said Followay. “Sports help develop focus and discipline. They teach children how to work as a team, overcome challenges and form friendships, while also improving their overall health and wellbeing. At ASPO, we want to spread the belief that children with disabilities don’t have to watch from the sidelines. They can participate in competition and make meaningful contributions to their teams…you just need to give them the opportunity!”
Followay actively advocates for inclusion of children with disabilities in school athletics. Through her efforts, students across Ohio were permitted to join their school track teams in 2013 and represent their schools at the OHSAA State Track and Field Championships. Since then, more than 50 school athletes with disabilities have participated on their school track teams with support from ASPO, which includes racing chair equipment loans and adaptive track and field training for the students and coaches.
In addition, Followay worked with the Ohio Senate to allocate funding through the Ohio Department of Education for the creation of the first interscholastic wheelchair basketball team in Ohio. Since the pilot launched during the 2015-16 school year, the program has expanded to include teams in five school districts.