Monica Aksamit could step away from fencing today and be pleased with a very successful career.
The Penn State alumna was a three-time All-American in college and won two national championships with the women’s fencing team.
When she graduated in 2012 and needed knee surgery after the NCAA finals, nobody would’ve blamed Aksamit if she put fencing behind her to focus on a career in kinesiology, her major at Penn State.
But that wasn’t enough, not for Monica Aksamit, an athlete with a lifelong dream of competing on the largest international stage in her sport and earning a gold medal for her county.
“I decided to dedicate the four years after graduating to training for the Olympics and trying to make the team next summer,” Aksamit said. “I moved back home to New Jersey and I commute into Manhattan where I fence and train with my coach of over 10 years now.”
The Olympics are nearing, and Aksamit wants a spot on the United States national team when it travels to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics. The journey to Rio involves a packed itinerary of training and competing to qualify for the team, and that path is unfortunately an expensive one.
“It’s a very costly sport and I’ve basically been spending my money on all of that,” she said. “I’ve been trying to work doing promotional modeling jobs and refereeing tournaments and I coach fencing. I’m trying to do anything I can to have money to be able to travel, but because of that there are times where I miss practice.”
Between her daily commute to New York City from her hometown in New Jersey, competition sign-up fees, airfare, hotels, and equipment costs, Aksamit estimates that she will need $23,000 to be able to fully dedicate herself to an Olympic run. Time spent away from the piste can be costly, and training/competing five days a week doesn’t leave much time to make money.
Just last year, Aksamit spent nearly $5,000 on train fair for the year and $13,000 on flights and hotels. That’s why the former Penn State fencer started a fundraising campaign, asking friends and family — both those she’s related to and her Penn State family — to help her reach her ultimate goal on the road to Rio. Aksamit has already raised nearly $8,000, a third of the way to her goal.
She recognizes that this is a lot to ask, and is trying to give back to her supporters as much as she can with campaign bonuses. She’ll give you a social media shout-out if you can spare $25 and she’ll add on a personal thank you letter for $50. The big spenders can get tickets to a New York Red Bulls game, a signed photo of Aksamit in action, a fencing bag, or even an hour to hang out with Aksamit.
“I went to Penn State and I put all my energy into winning for us. I definitely took advantage of every opportunity I was given because I was thankful for all that Penn State was able to give me,” she said. “I like to think that I gave a lot back to the university and I feel very strongly toward Penn State. I will always be a Nittany Lion at heart. I’m just looking for some help from my Penn State family.”
If you want to help out Aksamit’s fundraising campaign and support her Olympic run, check out the pursuit website here.
Here’s the video that accompanied her fundraising campaign: