Pounding the pavement, skip, jump, and hop. Sprinting strong, she passes the baton. One more race, adrenaline kicking in. Higher, faster, stronger, the wind brushes her face and she finally feels alive. All these years’ people have come and gone, but running has always been a constant companion and friend–a consistent source of empowerment, achievement, and belonging.

As a young girl, Anasterasia entered our care at Hephzibah Children’s Home in Macon, Ga. For seven years we watched her triumph, struggle, grow, and blossom. She worked hard in school and spoke little of her past. She strived for excellence on and off the track. She truly embarked on a journey of discovering who she is. While Hephzibah Children’s Home played a part in building her foundation, she truly spent some of her most formative years on the track –running through life, situation by situation. It was here that she was offered a safe place to grow, experiment, discover, and release.

Season after season of late work outs, hurdle exercises, and endless track meets, Anasterasia was ushered into a new season. She graduated high school with excellent academics, and social influence in her school. Receiving a full ride scholarship to Clemson University this fall, she is now one step closer to her dream of one day running in the Olympics.

Every obstacle she has faced was just another hurdle to conquer. Over time, she began to face these heights and issues with excellence, determination, and zeal. Underneath her spunkiness is a softness that calls forth kindness, compassion, and a heart for people struggling in the world. She is authentic and places a demand on the people around her to live to the same standard of authenticity. It must be said that Anasterasia’s relationship with Jesus has kept her steady and true.

“We are proud of Anasterasia,” said Christy Zbylut, campus life coordinator at Hephzibah Children’s Home. “We celebrate her life. We are thankful for the time she spent with us in care at Hephzibah, for being a part of her story.”