I have been speaking with Ashton for a couple of weeks now through LinkedIn messaging. We recently recorded her interview on my talk show. I have come to know her and her incredible story of constant challenges, troubles, and people who have used her.
Yet, Ashton Smith used what her mother and grandmother taught her to fight her way through it all, and she still has not given in to the battle to find her path in life and success in doing so.
Ashton's Early Life
Ms. Ashton Smith was born with an eye defect. There is still no cure for it. Due to this defect, she cannot see and had to wear special thick glasses that were still tough to see through. It affected her schooling, her relationships with her peers, and her home life.
Her father left her and her mother when Ahston was very young. His excuse is that he couldn't deal with the work of having a child with needs and difficulties. Whether it was a selfish embarrassment or laziness, Ashton will never know.
With her mother working hard, Ashton's Grandmother was the one who raised her in the home the most. Eventually, Ashton's mother also battled her demons, and so Grandma became her sole caretaker. Her mother recovered and became a dear part of Ashton's life.
At school, Ahston got picked on a lot. She didn't get special treatment or special education. She had to struggle with her strength, courage, and mind to make it to high school. As Ahston aged and reach her teen years, her high school life eased up in school. Science had advanced, and she could wear glasses that helped her see, that looked nicer, and fit better, and she discovered swimming at the young age of 9, which became her focus.
Still, Ashton faced put-downs and some devious players, but by her senior year, there was no doubting that Ms. Ahston had a great talent in the pool. Right out of school, she began training to be a Special Olympics swimming contestant. Swimming was all she did, and it took over her life. Adults were overbearing, and disrespectful, and demanding of her.
Special Olympics Swimming Competition
Ashton Smith did win Gold Medals in the Special Olympics as a swimmer and dozens more in other competitions as a swimmer over several years. Ashton can hold up a handful of mainly Gold and Silver, with a couple of Bronze mixed in. This lady could swim.
But, her story and the path she had to take to get to the Special Olympics and through it was a dark one for Ashton. As I mentioned, according to her, she wasn't treated fairly or well by people who worked with Special Olympics.
I'd like to not go into details of things Ashton shared. They can be seen and heard in our interview and read in detail in the linked article above. What I want to do, is shine a light on the incredible strength in character, bravery, and get-up-and-go spirit that Ahston Smith embraces. It is not something she was just taught by her Grandma, as I told her. It is something she was born with, buried deep in her DNA.
Ashton is a winner. She has gotten herself through hard times in life and situations where she has been taken advantage of, mistreated, and downright robbed of her image. I, for one, am not sure that I would have had the same strength. I've always found most women to be stronger than I when it comes to controlling and overcoming emotions.
I think a lot more men should and could admit to that than they do. Ashton is no longer swimming in competitions. But, she has a great voice, a powerful story of overcoming the odds and facing her detractors head-on, and that is the type of bravery that deserves to get rewarded financially.
However, unlike regular Olympians, who receive tens of thousands of dollars plus endorsements worth millions in some cases, Ashton, was given no compensation. Her likeness, photos with medals, and other materials showing her career have gotten used by others to make money.
"Life happens to all of us − sometimes they are difficult situations; sometimes they are bad situations; sometimes they are great situations. But, regardless, we have to deal with those situations." - Ashton Smith
Ashton lives on less than a grand a month. Anyone with a story like Ms. Smith's, and a book to tell it, with the nerve to confront those who have wronged her, deserves her story and voice to be heard. She could make a powerful transformational speaker and a speaker for women's and disabled people's rights.
Many have been scared of Ashton's brash upfront style and persona. I loved it! We hit it off right away, and it only takes a couple of easy human choices. Showing love and being respectful to someone is a good start. Once Ashton knows she can trust you, she is a beautiful soul to come to know, and she brought me to tears more than once with her life stories.
A Book That Deserves Attention
I've shared a lot about Ashton Smith, the Special Olympian Gold Medalist Swimmer. However, you can find out so much more shocking, heartwrenching, but uplifting information in her book, "Swimming UPSTREAM to Realize the Dream."
Ashton says that her story is not the only one out there like hers. There are others. Other disabled champions have faced the same treatment, lack of financial earnings, and no one willing to listen and give them a voice. Well, I and Heart of Hollywood Magazine love giving these people voices.
The goal is to uplift others who have come a long way to reach their goals, successes and have unique and special stories to tell. I'd love for this story to give Ashton all these things she greatly deserves. One day, she can turn back to the agents and managers who blocked her, and told her, "there's nothing to represent," or asked her, "What is there to monetize?" This is what many of us want to change about the world.
Putting good people with good hearts and souls in positions to help others that deserve it.
Helping someone who can help so many others with her story and her book.
This is what Heart of Hollywood Motion Pictures and Magazine is all about. Empowering others.
I wish Ashton the best in her future and that all she hopes for and deserves comes flowing her way soon; shining like the Gold she wears around her neck but has also had to sell to pay bills or to eat.
Ms. Ahston Smith, Gold Medal Champion of Strength, in my book of life.