Life has a funny way of throwing curveballs when you least expect it, leading us down paths we never imagined. In 2020, web design and content developer Alana Prince’s father passed due to cardiac arrest. A week later, her baby brother Brandon died due to the strain and stress of their father’s passing. You see, just two years earlier, Brandon had a heart transplant, but their father passing was too hard for his new heart to bear the weight of that grief.

Fast forward to 2024, a casual conversation between Alana and AMSG’s President and CEO Jim O’Farrell about using AMSG’s Hobby Program resource toward a new bike, led to Jim buying Alana a Trek City Bike. “If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, it’s that you never know what someone else is going through in their life. I’ve also learned that, as a leader, Compassion has to be front and center in all that we do. You have to not just TELL people you love them, you have to genuinely LOVE them — and show it through your actions. Alana is someone who I care about. She is someone who cares for her family and cares for our customer’s mission too. Buying her a bike was just one way to show her the love for all that she’s doing with her life!”

Sharing this slice of her life with Jim, she never expected he would gift her with a new bike. Life had taken a bit of a toll on Alana. Loss and grief, marriage and countless moves, and giving birth and motherhood, had left her heavier in more ways than one. But determined to reclaim both her health and cherished memories of biking with her father, Alana decided to take back her health.

With her daughter Amelia in tow, they found themselves in Alexandria, Virginia, at the Trek Bicycle Alexandria South to pick up her new ride. Little did Jim know, it wasn’t just a bike for Alana — it was a lifeline. Emotions ran high as she imagined her father’s pride. “I wished he could have witnessed that moment and met Jim,” says Alana.

“My father was more than just my biking buddy; he was my guiding light in both life and career, imparting wisdom and values that shaped who I am today. He is the reason I am who I am in my professional career. He taught me how to conduct my (19-year-old self) and be professional in the workplace.”

“And Jim’s kindness … his kindness is something I will forever cherish. He has such a beautiful soul. I am filled with so much joy that I work for and with such a generous human being. That day, I called my sister and said to her, ”Dad would be so proud.””

Now, as Alana embarks on her new health journey, she’s met with a mix of determination and trepidation. “Exercise has always been a scary thing to me because I always set so many (unnecessary) expectations on myself and get down when I don’t see results,” says Alana. “But since losing my Dad, I’m learning to be kinder to myself and cherish every moment I love. I tell myself to keep moving, keep pushing, and do the things you love. After all, this is why I wanted to bike.”

It’s not easy — the early mornings (hello 5:45 AM) and sacrificing fast food (RIP to her beloved Chick-fil-A) and sugar in her coffee — but she embraces this as a form of healing and self-care, and her way of tapping into precious moments with her Dad. Sligo Creek in Silver Spring, Maryland, was their playground where they’d lose track of time exploring the trails. They also shared a love for photography, so their rides were also punctuated by snapshots captured with their tiny point-and-shoot. Afterward, they’d laugh and talk over a post-ride meal. These were their moments of connection.

And as for Alana’s work as a web content manager for AMSG’s Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Science and Technology (S&T) contract, it’s a testament to the lessons she learned from her father — dedication, professionalism, and a passion for excellence. Through her work, she weaves digital narratives that mirror the complexities of life, seeking beauty in the broken pieces and finding hope in new beginnings.

“Though my father may no longer ride by my side, his spirit guides me every step of the way,” says Alana. Life may throw its challenges, but here’s to the road ahead, filled with twists, turns, and endless possibilities.

Black and white headshot of a dark skinned woman with shoulder length hair smiling at the camera with a black blazer on and a white dress shirt underneath that zips in the middle.-Written by Juania Owens