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The sweet spot

Junior Ashtyn Brown says that the week of October 16, 2011, changed her life forever. That was the week that she represented Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis as the ambassador for the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic in Orlando, Florida, the final stop of the PGA tour.

But Ashtyn’s life also changed in 1999 when she was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. She underwent two and a half years of treatments, only to have a relapse in 2002 and repeat the treatments. When she was declared cancer-free in 2004, she became a lover of golf —and one of Riley’s biggest fans.

One important week

“The whole experience of being involved with the tournament and the Children’s Miracle Network is what inspired me to change my major from nursing to communications and public relations,” Ashtyn says. “The ball has just kept rolling since that week.”

Thanks to that opportunity, she was offered an internship with the Golf Channel during the summer of 2012, where she worked with their news team and covered major golf tournaments. Shortly after that in August, Riley asked her to be their ambassador at the LPGA Legends senior tour in French Lick, Indiana. The week-long event raised $100,000 for the hospital.

“This is an event that involved golfers from all over the country who may not know about Riley,” she says, “so I talked to a lot of people and shared my story and introduced Riley to people. It helped them to understand how they are helping many people by participating in this event.”

Starting young

It’s not surprising that Ashtyn took to golf; her cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents have been playing for as long as she can remember. Summers were spent being carted to various golf tournaments across the state with her sister and parents. 

In 2008, her high school golf team at Richmond High School finished second in the state finals. She also is a competitive swimmer and says that it taught her the dedication that it takes to pursue a sport.

Here at UIndy, Ashtyn is getting ready to compete with the golf team this coming season, having sat out last year because of her transfer status from Ball State University.

“UIndy just felt right,” she says. “I knew this is where I needed to be.”

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Professional golfers Jan Kleiman (left) and Cindy Miller (center) with Ashtyn at the Legends Tour Championship in French Lick, Indiana. Ashtyn hit the honorary first tee shot to kick off the tournament.

 

Giving back

Ashtyn also works with Top Dog Communications, the student-run public relations firm on campus. She plans to start an internship with Riley soon, and hopes to land a job there one day. 

Her memories of her time at Riley are close to her heart, and she says that she plans on giving back to them in as many ways as possible.

“I share my Riley story whenever I can,” she explains. “I’ll never be able to give back enough to a place that saved my life, but I just want to be a part of it. My heart is very much entwined with Riley; in the past with my illness, in the present with ambassador opportunities, and, hopefully, in the future working for them. I just want people to realize how special that place is.”

—Sarvaani Thalakala ’18

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