Personality: Lakeshia X. Allen

Spotlight on winner of Sports Backers’ first Raymond D. Patterson Award

2/17/2017, 7:24 p.m.
Empowering students and their families is more than a job for Lakeshia Allen — it’s a life mission.

Empowering students and their families is more than a job for Lakeshia Allen — it’s a life mission. Her most recent effort, completing the Fitness Warriors program of the Richmond Sports Backers’ “Keep It Movin’” community initiative, has earned her the first Raymond D. Patterson Award.

As the late community relations director of Sports Backers, Mr. Patterson was a key figure in staging big sporting events in the city, such as the Anthem Richmond Marathon and the Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10K.

“Lakeshia embodies the example of resourcefulness and initiative demonstrated by Ray’s legacy,” says Jacki Quinlan, director of community outreach for Sports Backers and a program administrator for the Fitness Warriors.

Ms. Allen, 32, says she was “elated and shocked” when her name was called as the recipient of the award during the Fitness Warriors graduation ceremony Jan. 28 at the Robinson Theatre Community Arts Center in Church Hill.

“As the award was described, we were told to look to the left of us and look toward the right, because one of us would be receiving the award,” Ms. Allen says. “I had no idea it was me.

“I come from a class of amazing warriors. I was honored to be chosen.”

Ms. Allen was among 30 instructors who completed the Fitness Warriors training that is designed to make fitness resources more available to youngsters and families in underserved communities. Those completing the program then offer free fitness classes to members of their communities. The program helps the new trainers find facilities in which to hold the classes. The new Fitness Warriors join 43 other graduates of the program.

Ms. Allen’s fitness class is held 7 p.m. each Tuesday at the Fairfield Court unit of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Richmond, 2506 Phaup St. Serving all fitness levels, Ms. Allen said her classes typically begin with stretching and include cardiovascular and resistance exercises, such as jumping rope, jumping jacks and squats.

“Mostly, we just have fun. I always encourage people to go at their own pace,” she says. Ms. Allen already was working with young people and their families in her jobs with the Boys and Girls Clubs and Richmond Public Schools.

“But I just wanted to do more,” she says. “I saw (the Fitness Warriors program) as a way to get the students and their parents to work out and spend time with each other while learning a healthier lifestyle — going through the journey of getting healthy together.”

She plans to become a certified fitness instructor.

“I’m not a fitness guru, but I’ve always been involved in sports and being healthy, she says. “And I’m always encouraging people around me to be healthy as well.”

Meet this week’s Personality and Fitness Warrior, Lakeshia X. Allen:

Date and place of birth: March 18 in Orangeburg, S.C.

Current residence: Richmond.

Education: Bachelor’s degree, Virginia State University; currently pursuing a master’s in public administration from Strayer University.

Occupation: Community-parent liaison with Richmond Public Schools and youth development specialist with Fairfield Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Richmond.