In the wake of her
husband's death, Ashley (Danielson) Toms encourages others to commit to a healthy lifestyle
COKATO, MN – Losing her
husband just weeks before their first anniversary was the most heartbreaking experience for Ashley (Danielson) Toms.
But instead of letting her
sadness overcome her
is using her
faith and her
husband's undying inspiration to help others live a "life of vitality."
, a 2003 Dassel-Cokato graduate, met her
husband, Steve, in 2010, at Life Time Fitness in Lakeville, where she
trained for figure competitions.
described this as a feminized version of body-building, involving strict training.
Steve was the head the of personal training department and invited her
to join him in his
even bought her
pink boxing gloves.
"That was his
strategy, I guess, and it worked," Ashley
said, adding that the two hit it off from there.
Steve then became her
personal trainer, helping her
train for upcoming competitions.
began competing in 2008, and has since competed on both state and national levels.
The couple married Nov. 18, 2011, and took their shared passion of physical fitness and living a healthy lifestyle to their church.
Last fall, they began Christian Fitness Warriors at River Valley Church
in Apple Valley, with the goal of teaching people to "live the life that God had designed for all of us, one of abundance," Ashley
noted their ministry was based on Romans 12:1-2.
The couple was also in the process of submitting a book proposal with the same name.
This is something Ashley
will continue to work on, based on her
husband's quote: "People who live in a state of vulnerability, need to change to stability so they can really live when they change to a state of vitality."
explained it like this: "When we live in a vulnerable state we're susceptible to physical and spiritual harm.
As traumatizing as it was for Ashley
has chosen to "make this circumstance a steppingstone and help others," she
heart is breaking, Ashley
faith is keeping her
strong and it's important for her
to be a witness to people and glorify God in all aspects of life.
"It's just a major part of how (Steve) lived, and how I continue to live," Ashley
Giving up is not an option for her
said, and referenced a Bible verse that gives her
strength and hope.
"As for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more" (Psalm 71:14 NIV).
"God is good, all the time," Ashley
added that it doesn't have to be a fitness-related goal and that Commitment Day
is also about supporting others in whatever their personal goals may be.
With the giving season upon us, Ashley
was recently surprised with a gift of her
For Ashley, the morning of Dec. 5 started just like any other day at Red Oak Elementary School in Shakopee, where she teaches physical education – that was until she was handed the phone by someone she suspected was there from the local YMCA.
"I was totally touched by their kindness and compassion," Ashley
"It was absolutely amazing."