The Athena® Warriors
As the daughter of an oncologist, Athena® Warrior Amy Grant remembers hearing her father break down when he had to tell a woman she had breast cancer. In the 1970s, when Amy was growing up, a breast cancer diagnosis almost always meant one of two things – disfiguring surgery or certain death.
A lot has changed since then, thanks to increased awareness, groundbreaking research and better treatments. Yet Amy, who was signed to her first record label at age 15 and went on to become a six-time Grammy Award winning singer and songwriter, still has a special place in her heart for those battling breast cancer. Several of her friends are breast cancer survivors, and Amy and her husband, Vince Gill, have contributed their time and voices to numerous cancer causes. Amy's hit single "Better than a Hallelujah," written by Chapin Hartford and Sarah Hart, particularly resonated with her as she dealt with the ovarian cancer death of her longtime friend, musician Ruth McGinnis. Amy's most recent album, How Mercy Looks From Here, debuted at number one on Billboard's Christian Albums chart.
Amy's career spans over 25 years and stretches from her roots in gospel into becoming an iconic pop star, songwriter, television personality and philanthropist. She has sold more than 30 million albums, had six number one hits and been awarded a star on the legendary Walk of Fame in Hollywood. In addition to her six Grammys, Amy has earned 26 Dove awards and is a four-time Dove Artist of the Year. Her book, Mosaic: Pieces of My Life So Far, debuted in 2007.
Conventional wisdom has it that Amy put Contemporary Christian music on the map. She achieved such breakthroughs as being the first Contemporary Christian artist to have a platinum record, the first to hit number one on the Pop charts, and the first to perform at the Grammys. Perhaps her greatest professional accomplishment was to open the door for a flood of other artists in pop and rock to sing about faith and soul and family and still grasp stardom. With that, her legacy as one of the most influential artists of the past couple of decades is assured.
Yet Amy's legacy will most certainly reach beyond her music. As an Athena® Warrior, Amy reaches out to women battling breast cancer and to those who love them with quiet determination and true compassion. Amy sings about love and loss, faith and heartbreak, hope and healing. Her life is as genuine – and as beautiful – as her songs.
Swimmer and Athena® Warrior Amanda Beard knows how to fight. After all, it takes a fighter to win two Olympic gold, four silver and one bronze medals. It takes a fighter to be a world record holder and three-time world champion. It takes a fighter to swim in four consecutive Olympic games.
But it has been Amanda's more personal fights that have been the hardest. In her memoir, In the Water They Can't See You Cry, Amanda shares her journey of battling and overcoming depression, eating disorders, drugs and alcohol. An Olympic gold medalist at age 14, Amanda has spent most of her life in the pool, but she has never been happier than she is right now – as a healthy, active wife and mother. Amanda is not only a fighter; she's a survivor.
Amanda attributes much of her warrior attitude to her grandmother, a breast cancer survivor, who has inspired Amanda to join Athena® in the fight to end breast cancer. Amanda's grandmother, diagnosed in 1993, taught Amanda about grace, courage and inner strength that obviously runs in the family.
Amanda measures success not by medals or records or championships. She measures success by her infinite love for her husband, photographer Sacha Brown; their son, Blaise; and their daughter, Doone. She measures success by her grandmother, Rosalie Beard, who inspires her every day. And she measures success by her role as an Athena® Warrior, increasing awareness about the fight against breast cancer.
Yes, Amanda Beard is a fighter. She's a survivor. And she's a winner – regardless of how she does in the pool.
When LPGA golfer Angela Stanford's mother was diagnosed with breast cancer a few years ago, Angela attacked the news with the same energy she displays on the golf course. As she helped her mother navigate the vast sea of information and treatment options, she learned firsthand how challenging that can be.
Of course, challenge is nothing new to the Athena® Warrior. Angela has been called "gritty," "hard charger" and "the spoiler" by the golf press. That last description was a tongue-in-cheek reference to her beating crowd favorites Annika Sorenstam at the 2008 Lorena Ochoa Invitational and Michelle Wie at the 2009 SBS Open. And why did the Golf Week reporter dub Angela "the spoiler?" She was quoting Angela's equally spirited mom.
Most recently, Angela won the 2012 HSBC Women's Champions, her fifth professional championship. Angela also took home professional victories at the 2003 Shop Rite LPGA Classic and the 2008 Bell Micro LPGA Classic. In 2011, Angela tied for 3rd at Kraft Nabisco and placed 4th at the U.S. Women's Open, both LPGA Majors. She also recorded 6 of 13 top 10 finishes and was ranked 20th in the Rolex World Rankings and 5th in the U.S. Solheim Cup standings.
A warrior and a winner at an early age, Angela started her golf career in Texas, where she won the Fort Worth Girls Championship four times, the 1996 Texas State 4A High School Championship, and the 1996 PING Texas State Junior Championship. While at Texas Christian University, she won nine collegiate tournaments, was a four-time All-American, and was 1999 Western Athletic Conference Player of the Year.
Angela learned the value of hard work from her parents and continues to honor their blue-collar background by wearing a blue shirt on the final day of tournament play. She founded The Angela Stanford Foundation in 2009 to assist those affected by cancer. Strong and determined, Angela is equally dedicated to the fight against breast cancer – in honor of her mom and all breast cancer warriors.
Karen Gooding, the North Carolina freelance writer who pens the Athena blog, is a three-time cancer survivor and eternal optimist. Diagnosed with breast cancer at age 34 in 1995, she underwent a double mastectomy, chemotherapy and reconstructive surgery and then got back to her favorite job, raising daughter Elizabeth, then 5, and son Thomas, then 2.
She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2007 and with recurrent ovarian cancer in 2012. After extensive surgery and relatively new methods of chemotherapy, she and her husband, Jim, enjoy spending time with family and friends, as well as living vicariously through their now college-age children.
Karen began her career as a features writer for The News & Observer in Raleigh, NC, and went on to write for a variety of local, regional and national publications. Her role model is her mom, Libby Fisher, a 40-year breast cancer survivor, whose giving spirit and positive outlook inspire her every day. An angel band of friends and family have encouraged Karen along the way, teaching her to overlook the bad (and no) hair days and the constellation of scars on her torso and to focus on what really matters.
As an Athena® Warrior, she believes in being armed with accurate information, a great support system and a boundless sense of humor. Karen recently celebrated her 50th birthday, and more than anything, she appreciates the profoundly ordinary moments that make life extraordinary.