Cyclist of Hope
Tricia Downing '91 was a competitive cyclist
back in September 2000, showing off her new
Giordana bike to a friend, when she was struck
by a car and paralyzed from the chest down.
Now she's a world-class athlete, competing
in half-Iron Man triathlons and duathlons from
her hand cycle.
She shares her inspirational story of redefining
"able" as a globetrotting motivational
speaker and in her newly published book,
"Cycle of Hope: A Journey from Paralysis to
"It was a cathartic thing for me," she says,
adding that once she decided to start writing,
it only took her two weeks to finish the book.
It chronicles the hole she had to climb out
of as she found a new way to live. After being
told she'd be confined to a wheelchair for life,
Downing became determined to once again
enjoy the freedom of competitive cycling.
The Denver resident didn't waste any time,
contacting the Challenged Athletes Foundation
from her hospital bed to request a grant to
buy a hand cycle. At first, Downing could
barely manage two or three miles behind the
three-wheeled bike. Six months later, she completed a half-marathon. She later became the second female wheelchair racer to complete an Iron-distance triathlon: a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, 26.2-mile run. In other words, she propels herself more than 140 miles using only her arms.
She is also director of Camp Discovery in
her native Colorado, which offers activities
such as tennis, golf, hand cycling and scuba
In July, Downing won the
2010 London Paratriathlon
with a time of 44:53. She
participated as part of her
advocacy for including
paratriathlons in the
for other women in wheelchairs, in
hopes of helping them reinvent themselves. Since she rarely has female competition in her
races, she also sees the camp as an opportunity
to train other women to compete in
She has appeared in numerous health
magazine and newspapers, including Muscle
and The Denver Post
won Sportswoman of Colorado inspiration
and triathlon awards in 2003 and 2005,
respectively. She's also a spokeswoman for the
Challenged Athletes Foundation.
Lisa Newman, Downing's best friend since
high school, says it was hard watching her
relearn life in a wheelchair. Trish, as she and
others call her, e-mails reports to family and
friends after every race.
"I sit and read them and I cry," Newman
says. "I cry in celebration. She's just incredible,
the amount she can endure and still carry on."
Newman tears up as she tells a story about
her niece, who competed a few years ago in
a swim marathon fundraiser and swam more
laps than anyone expected. When asked how
she did it, the girl said she kept thinking to
herself: "Trish Downing, Trish Downing, Trish
Producer Mark Ciardi
'83 works on the set of
"Secretariat" with actors
Kevin Connolly (bottom,
left) and John Malkovich
(below, center). Ciardi
returned to campus in
September for a preview
screening of the film.
Like one of the protagonists of his Cinderella-story
blockbusters, Mark Ciardi '83 has worked his way onto
Hollywood's roster of MVPs.
Drafted right out of Maryland to a pro baseball career,
he's become the producer of sports-themed movies including
"The Rookie," "Miracle," "Invincible" and, coming this
Ciardi played six years for the Milwaukee Brewers and
in its farm system. He had moved to California to train,
and by the time his big league days were over, he had
made enough connections in the film industry to take a
swing at a career at producing.
With his background, Ciardi appreciated films about real-life underdogs becoming
sports heroes. "Everyone likes a good second-chance story. Sports entertain and
move people. It makes for a great canvas to tell a story," he explains.
Ciardi sees movies through the entire creative process. "It starts and ends with the
producer. You're always working on different projects at once, all at different stages. I
could be working on scoring one film, while editing and previewing another while simultaneously
marketing the next project," says Ciardi. Picking his favorite part is easy: "The
first time you preview your movie to an audience, when it works, it is unbelievable."
Most Marylanders will recognize the name Secretariat. In 1973, the thoroughbred
became the first U.S. Triple Crown champion in 25 years, taking the laurels in the
Preakness Stakes held in Baltimore. Ciardi's latest movie, starring Diane Lane and John
Malkovich, is based on the horse's career and the unlikely success of its owner and
Earning his marketing degree at Maryland and playing baseball taught Ciardi what
he needed to do to accomplish his goals. "When you don't fear success and you take
risks, that's when you achieve it." Continue to look for Ciardi in the closing credits as
he continues to write his own success story. —MLB
Master of Social Media
U.S. Summer Tour,
stopping in cities to
network and conduct
interviews in a partylike
Adam Ostrow '04 doesn't scan just a few e-mails in the
morning. He sifts through thousands of messages, websites
and Twitter and news feeds. As the editor-in-chief of Mashable.com, Ostrow—with help from staff members—taps every possible resource to determine the best fodder for
what's become the definitive blog on social media news.
Ostrow's success began with his Terp connections. A
distinguished graduate of the Hinman CEOs program, he
launched the social network site Mindsay with Brian Klug
'01. The two met at an entrepreneurship meeting at Maryland
while Ostrow was a senior journalism major.
The pair's network, which attracted more than 50,000
people in the first year, is still running today. To promote their
creation, Ostrow began blogging for Mashable founder and
CEO Pete Cashmore.
"I started to contribute more and more, and as Mashable
continued to grow, Pete put me in charge of the editorial
department. We were doing 3 million page views a month
then," Ostrow says. Now it gets more than 30 million page
views per month.
"Mashable has skyrocketed to be one of the most popular
news websites for anyone involved in having a voice on the
Internet," says Will Sullivan, an award-winning interactive
developer for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "When people ask
me for proven, modern models of success in online publishing,
Mashable almost always comes up as an example and as a
resource to teach them more."
Sharon Feder, Mashable's managing editor, has been
working with Ostrow since the two started at the company.
She says he taught her most of what she knows about keeping
tabs on social media.
"I think for Adam, it's a 24/7 job. Even on weekends he'll
make time to go to industry conferences and events," Feder
says. "He really is taking Mashable beyond just social media,
and that has a lot to do with his passion in other areas."
Since Ostrow has been at the site's editorial helm, it's
undergone a redesign and added content covering business,
entertainment, mobile and Web video.
Ostrow also uses his expertise to write commentary and
consult within the technology community. He says things
have changed a lot since he first became interested in social
media during the '90s when AOL chat rooms were popular.
He says his participation in the community doesn't harm his
coverage of it.
"It adds some experience and credibility to the reporting,"
he says. "If you have hands-on experience and understand the
dynamics of what you're talking about, you can give the kind
of analysis that lets people really understand the story." —SJ