UMW News BureauMotivational speaker Trish Downing will address the incoming class of first-year students at the University of Montana Western 2012 Orientation. Downing’s speech, “Ride Your Own Race,” will take place on Friday, Aug. 24 at 4 p.m. in the Straugh Gymnasium. UMW NEWS BUREAU [caption id="" align="alignleft" width="303" caption="Photo courtesy of Trish Downing."][/caption] Motivational speaker Trish Downing will address the incoming class of first-year students at the University of Montana Western 2012 Orientation. Downing’s speech, “Ride Your Own Race,” will take place on Friday, Aug. 24 at 4 p.m. in the Straugh Gymnasium. Downing’s life was forever changed on Sept. 17, 2000 when a car hit her head-on during a professional cycling training ride. Downing went from a competitive cyclist to a paraplegic, yet despite her disability, she still travels the globe as a world-class physically challenged triathlete and inspirational speaker. She was the first female paraplegic to complete an Ironman Triathlon, which includes a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike ride and 26.2 mile run. Downing earned a master’s degree in sport management in 1995 and eventually worked at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. She was the press officer for the USA Table Tennis team at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta and again served as a press officer for the USA Swimming team at the 1997 World University Games in Italy. Downing taught at the high school level in Denver Public Schools before becoming a professional speaker. Downing is the recipient of many national athletic awards, including the Sportswoman of Colorado 2003 Inspiration Award and the 2005 Triathlon Award, the Challenged Athletes Foundation 2006 Most Inspirational Athlete and the Tempe Sports Authority 2008 Courage Award.