Golden Ashton Claimed

Olympics World Medalist Winning Swimmer | Author | Public Speaker

5.0/51 Reviews

I keep the lights on for people who feel hopeless in their lives. – Ashton Smith

Gem story was written by: Marcus Mulenga

Life has consistently felt like a ceaseless struggle upstream for Ashton Smith. Her journey has been punctuated by a series of obstacles that she’s navigated with unwavering resolve. From a father who abandoned their family, grappling with a visual impairment since birth, enduring the loss of beloved family members, shattered dreams, to the compounded challenges that arise from being a disabled black woman—forcing her to toil tenfold harder than her counterparts. Yet, within this cascade of trials, Ashton’s tenacity remains steadfast, determined to distill positivity from adversity and shed light on her experiences to guide others facing parallel tribulations. Ashton’s self-proclaimed divine mission is to be a beacon for those adrift in the abyss of hopelessness, a mission that will become unequivocally clear once you hear her story.

Originating from a modest town in Ellis County, Texas, Ashton Smith was nurtured in Fort Worth by her doting grandmother, who shouldered the caregiving mantle when Ashton’s mother was unable to. In the backdrop of a less secure environment, Ashton adapted a more masculine demeanor to guard against the vulnerability she felt due to her gender and disability. In her family, athleticism held a significant place, and Ashton found her solace and equality in the swimming pool—the first swimmer in her family. Here, she discovered her oasis of comfort, where she defied statistical classifications. For Ashton, swimming transcended mere exercise, offering a reprieve from societal labels. Her visual impairment added an extra layer of challenge to swimming, prompting her to rely on specialized prescription glasses to gauge distance and depth during her laps. One serendipitous day, following a swim at the YMCA, an 18-year-old Ashton encountered a flyer for the Special Olympics in Texas. With swift deliberation and her grandmother’s blessing, she embarked on this new chapter.

The Special Olympics represented a stage for Ashton to showcase her indomitable spirit—to affirm her capacity to accomplish anything she sets her mind to and defy the constraints of her disability. Her achievements—paraded across NBC, ESPN, and other platforms—were nothing short of triumphant. However, Ashton’s journey within the Special Olympics was fraught with unforeseen challenges. Racism festered, boundaries were transgressed, funding was conspicuously absent, and respect was in short supply. Despite her astonishing accomplishments, Ashton encountered a dichotomy of adversity within the organization she once revered. The struggle culminated in her exclusion from future participation, even as she was celebrated as a phenomenal athlete. The dissonance of being hailed as exceptional while simultaneously being driven into poverty and ignominy haunted her.

However, it is precisely this adversity that makes Ashton Smith the remarkable Gem we spotlight today. Refusing to be confined to the narrative of victimhood, she refused to be a mere cautionary tale. She could have been ensnared by the rage fueled by the injustice she endured, but instead, Ashton harnessed her energy to follow a lifelong pattern—swimming upstream. She forged a new aspiration: to educate those who opt to participate in the Special Olympics—no malice intended—about the emotional, physical, and financial toll that may await them. Moreover, she advocates for comprehensive reform within the organization to elevate its representation, support, and protection of disabled participants. Ashton encourages all young athletes, irrespective of their abilities, to familiarize themselves with Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) laws, establishing trust funds and legally binding contracts to preserve their dignity and independence. These are the insights she wishes she could retroactively share with her younger self back at the YMCA in Fort Worth, Texas.

As the world reopens post-pandemic, Ashton’s focus has pivoted to honing her public speaking skills. She envisions garnering sponsorships, management support, securing engagements on podcasts and radio shows to shed light on her experiences within the Special Olympics—experiences shared by other athletes who might lack her freedom of expression. Ashton aspires to monetize her narrative, demanding rightful compensation for her decades of competing as an unsponsored athlete. Her autobiography, “Swimming Upstream to Realize the Dream: Dealing with Disability, Disappointment, Doubt, and Drowning in Debt,” available at Walmart and Amazon, marks her initial foray into this new realm.

To maintain her positivity amid a labyrinth of trials, Ashton leans on her family and faith. Her supportive siblings, especially her caring brother, and the spiritual nourishment she derives from her affiliations with Broadway Baptist Church and Mercy Culture provide her with a steadfast foundation. Ashton reserves a special acknowledgment for the creators of OR Cam, an innovation that enables the visually impaired to read, even the Bible. In fact, if she were to orchestrate a “last meal,” she’d extend invitations solely to her family, including those who have departed, and the divine. Ashton also indulges in moments of joy—participating in video games and impromptu swimming contests with men and children at local pools. The remainder of the year holds promise, with Ashton eagerly anticipating her speaking engagements and the potential transformation of the Special Olympics. And if that transformation transpires, a return to the organization’s fold is not beyond the realm of possibility. Ashton Smith is a true Gem, one worth keeping an eye on as she continues to seize opportunities and harness technology to uplift herself and others.

1 Review for Golden Ashton

Harris55 1 Reviews

Ashton is a great person & agood motivational speaker. I recommend her for positive speaker engagements.

Was this review ...? Interesting 0 LOL 0 Love 0