21 & Change Expands Board of Directors
TAMPA, Fla. (Sept. 27, 2019) — The 21 & Change Board of Directors unanimously appointed Realtor Sunny Alexander with Tomlin St Cyr Real Estate Services; Owner/Coach Michelle Richards from The Tampa Movement Lab; and Legislative Aide Clayton Clemens with the Florida House of Representatives, on Thursday, Sept. 12 during the monthly board of directors’ meeting.
President John Bodor said, “After a very busy first year, we are happy to see our board of directors expand with some incredibly caring and talented business people from our community. Their energy and compassion to champion human rights for ‘differently-abled’ children and adults is amazing and will help us make additional progress at both the state and federal level.”
At the 21 & Change first annual luncheon event earlier this year, both Alexander and Richards were awarded the 21 & Change’s Ambassador for Change Award for their volunteer leadership in establishing the first Champions for Change Event hosted at Richards’ Tampa Movement Lab. Clemens also attended the event with Florida Representative Jackie Toledo (R).
“21 & Change is an organization that values all human lives as they strive to end the Down syndrome ‘syndrome’ and their members extend their respect and value to their volunteers. The organization, its board and all their volunteers have created a model that is an inspiration for us all. I am even more committed to supporting 21 & Change and I am excited to see how we can impact our community and beyond,” said Alexander.
Alexander attended West Point where she was recruited to play soccer. After graduating from West Point, she earned her commission in the US Army where she served six years of Active Duty in Fort Bragg, NC, (where she met her husband while jumping out of perfectly good airplanes) and Fort Belvoir, VA, where she worked with Gold Star Families and families with wounded warriors. Following her military career, she earned a Masters in Corporate Communications from Austin Peay State University.
With her husband’s retirement from a 22-year Army career in Special Forces, they have decided to make Tampa their forever home after falling in love with the community over the last four years. She has a firm belief in service which leads her to spearhead philanthropic events in the Tampa Bay community and maintain an active membership in the Tampa Downtown Rotary Club, Board of Directors for West Point Society Florida West and now a board member with 21 & Change.
When asked why Richards wanted to serve as a member of the board for 21 & Change, she said, “Movement is more than just sets and reps. There is a relationship between movement and the brain that is extremely valuable to all populations. As a board member, my mission is to help bring movement to children with special needs so that they can experience and accomplish the great things that come along with succeeding in a physical task. The community of people we have grown at Tampa Movement Lab can not only help by planning events for the children and adults, but also our network of members puts the organization at an advantage by growing the awareness of the mission of 21 and Change. I am honored to serve.”
Richards received a Master of Science degree in Human Performance from the University of South Florida where she completed her major area of studies in restoring mobility and strength and conditioning. She is a young and energetic visionary who purchased a gym called CrossFit Hyde Park in 2016. She chose to buy into the CrossFit system for one main reason – it’s ability to bring together the community better than any other fitness community. As a gym owner, Richards wants to do more than simply teach exercise, she is on a mission to help heal those in pain, those who cannot move become mobile and become a spark for those who want to feel like they belong to a caring wellness community.
Over the better part of the last decade, Richards has developed a strong reputation for helping rehabilitate injured joints and develop movement in all populations. But she soon realized that coaching hour-to-hour only allows her to help a limited number of people. Fortunately, she didn’t have to wait long to expand her practice and her reach. Her reputation soon led her to create an environment to teach more people a better way to train and gain confidence in their bodies. Since purchasing the gym, CrossFit Hyde Park has now evolved into Tampa Movement Lab, a facility that hosts CrossFit, personal training and small group classes. As a professor of Applied Kinesiology at The University of Tampa, she dedicates part of her spare time to teaching the next generation of coaches the same methods to help others.
Yet she hasn’t stopped there. Richards has used Tampa Movement Lab as a vehicle to transform the lives of those with special needs. Since taking over ownership of the facility, she has hosted many fitness related charity events for those with special needs to help support them, their families and recognize them for their abilities rather than their disabilities. Her mission of making the Tampa Bay community a better place through movement and fitness is being carried out daily at Tampa Movement Lab.
When Clemens was asked why he wanted to be a board member at 21 & Change during his initial interview, he said, “I felt an immediate connection to the 21 & Change organization after participating in their Champions for Change event earlier this year. The ability to advocate for those with disabilities is a passion I have been looking for ever since my nephew suffered a stroke at birth leading to an invasive hemispherectomy. The challenges he and his family face motivate me to make sure children and parents are protected and have the necessary tools at their disposal for the best quality of life possible.”
Clemens is a 2016 graduate from The University of Tampa with a degree in Communications and a minor in Advertising. Originally from Pennsylvania, he has settled in the Tampa Bay area permanently and has spent his post graduate life working for the Florida Legislature and actively advocating in the Tampa Bay community for a variety of causes.
21 & Change, Inc. is dedicated to ending the Down syndrome ‘syndrome’ through advocacy, support and niche services in the Greater Tampa Bay-St. Petersburg area and beyond. The organization is seeking additional board members, volunteers, strategic and local partners and both corporate and individual sponsors.
For more information, please visit www.21andchange.org.