By Angela Higginbotham
Kim Hetrick spent her childhood both in West Virginia and Washington state. She later moved to Ohio for college where she majored in education. Hetrick and her husband of 25 years, Ron, moved to Julington Creek in 2004. They have three children, aged 22, 19 and 15. As a parent of a special needs child, Hetrick has devoted herself to countless efforts in supporting special needs children and adults. She is currently leading the Jacksonville chapter of Ainsley’s Angels, a national nonprofit that aims to build awareness about the special needs community through inclusion in all aspects of life. Hetrick has found her passion in encouraging Jacksonville families to run races with their special needs family members.
- What do you enjoy most about living in St. Johns?
I enjoy the small town feel, even though it’s grown so much since we moved here. It’s a great place to raise kids. The schools and family environment are great. I never have to wear a coat, so I love that.
- How did you become involved with Ainsley’s Angels?
My son, Jake, was pushed in a charity run back in 2013. When I saw him crossing the finish line, it was a powerful moment for me. He loved participating. My husband and I decided to purchase Jake a specialized running chair and we trained with the Couch to 5K app, so that we could run races with him ourselves. Ainsley’s Angels has an active chapter in Tampa, but Jacksonville didn’t have one at the time, so I was asked if I wanted become an ambassador. We do fundraisers and, along with corporate donations, we’ve raised money for 10 running chairs to be available for families that would like to participate in a race. Seeing relationships forming and watching families be joyful and excited to participate in a sporting event is the greatest feeling.
- What do you enjoy most about the ability to have your son with you while you run these races?
It gets us out of the house and it’s so nice to have a sport that we can participate in together as a family. It’s so nice to be included in races around Jacksonville and to celebrate when we cross the finish line.
- What do you enjoy doing outside of your volunteer work?
I became a runner through Ainsley’s Angels, so I enjoy that. I love the beach, the arts and hanging out with friends.
- What would you consider your greatest accomplishment thus far?
With all we’ve been through, our life didn’t really go as we thought it would. Finding so much joy in Plan B and thriving as a family — I’m proud of that.
Photo courtesy Kim Hetrick
Kim Hetrick with son Jake.