Teen Adaptive Athlete Elina Villemure Welcomes Challenge into Her Life, Looks to Inspire Others to Do the Same

January 1, 2024 by
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The non-profit Forging Youth Resilience is a charitable organization, whose mission is to bring fitness, mentorship, and support to youth in underserved and underprivileged communities. They do this by partnering with gyms across the country. 

  • The organization began as Steve’s Club National Program in 2007, and in 2021 rebranded to become Forging Youth Resilience or simply, “FYR.” 

Over the years, countless FYR coaches have worked with athletes throughout the country, introducing them to fitness, and helping them to set goals and find strength via fitness and physical challenges. 

One such athlete is 19-year-old Elina Villemure. 

Some background: Originally from Bulgaria, Villemure was adopted at age six and brought to her home in Detroit, MI in the fall of 2010. Born without a right leg, at age four, her left leg was amputated, as she was missing bones in her ankle and foot from birth. 

A self-proclaimed life-long athlete, Villemure has pursued sports and activities for as long as she can remember. She reminisces about playing catch with her brothers and swimming. For six years she rode horses competitively and has never shied away from a physical challenge, despite her limitations. 

Several years ago, Villemure trained and completed a 100-mile bike ride, through Michigan, that took her three days to complete. 

When asked why she seeks out such feats, she shares that her mission is to inspire others. 

  • “Impacting others is what keeps me going. Knowing that I am inspiring others, and also the support I receive, and knowing so many people believe in me. Support and inspiration are what fuels me to keep going,” Villemure said. 
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Forging Youth Resilience: In February of 2023, Villemure began attending FYR fitness classes at her gym in Detroit, Michigan. Little did she know it was CrossFit, but regardless, she fell in love with the structure, the challenge, the community, and the inclusivity. Her coach always made sure that Villemure had the modifications necessary for her workouts so that she could still experience the true stimulus of the WODs. 

In July, Villemure attended the annual FYR summer leadership camp. While there, she summited a mountain, a feat that had all the camp coaches and volunteers in tears. While there, she learned about the larger world of CrossFit, and she knew she wanted to be a bigger part of it. 

Villemure expressed that while she feels that her calling is to inspire others, she is inspired by so many as well. As Villemure explains, her FYR coach, Kelsey Smith, has dedicated herself to the FYR community, donating her time and effort to bring fitness into the lives of so many youth. 

Games athlete Amy Bream is another figure that Villemure looks to for inspiration. Before watching Bream compete at the CrossFit Games this year, Villemure explained that she didn’t know CrossFit athletes could compete at such a high level; that they were capable of so much. 

What’s next: After her experience at FYR’s summer camp, Villemure made a decision and after months of studying, just recently received her CF-L1. She is anxious to begin working with FYR, coaching young athletes, helping to introduce them to the world of fitness, and inspiring them to do hard things. 

  • “The TYR family has always been so good to me. They’re so amazing and I’m so grateful to be a part of it. I want to give back and inspire as many people as I can,” Villemure said. 

The bottom line: While she looks forward to working with Detroit youth in the near future, she acknowledges that there are people living in all parts of the world in need of inspiration and strength, some days more than others. She shared a poignant piece of advice for anyone who may need it. 

  • Villemure: “There’s a wolf in the dark, and one in the light. The one that lives is the one you choose to feed. It’s up to you to choose who to fuel and feed every day, and some days you may feed the dark one and some days you may feed the light one. But really it just all comes down to the mind over the body and making the choice of who you want to become.”

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