An inspiration to others, herself

  • Ali Koehler has been collecting donations for the Human Race for Becoming Independent, Wednesday April 23, 2014. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat) 2014

Ali Koehler is an artist and singer. Her paintings have earned her national honors and have been purchased for inclusion in private and corporate collections.

One was selected to appear on the label of an Imagery Estate wine. Just last month, the 32-year-old Sebastopol woman was invited be an artist-in-residence at the prestigious Chalk Hill Artist Residency Program at the Warnecke Ranch in Healdsburg.

As a vocalist, Koehler took first place in Becoming Independent's talent show with her heart-felt rendition of "Part of Your World."

Developmentally disabled, Koehler takes pride in expressing her many abilities. And she can now add to that list of accomplishments "leading fundraiser."

Koehler has emerged as one of the top individual fund-raisers for the Human Race, an annual walk/run benefitting area nonprofits.

In her first year in 2011, she raised $6,995, placing her fourth among all individual fund-raisers and making it a banner year for her designated nonprofit, Becoming Independent, which provides support and employment to some 1,000 people with developmental disabilities.

Every year since then, Koehler has reached high, last year inching close to $6,000. Those totals actually double when her parents, Peter and Jayne Hamel, kick in a matching pledge.

"She's amazing. She's just so willing and excited about fund-raising," said Alicia Alexander, special events coordinator for the Volunteer Center of Sonoma County, which sponsors the annual event.

This year's race pushes off at 8 a.m. May 10 from Herbert Slater Middle School with some 1,165 individual and entrants signing up for either a 3K up to Howarth Park or a 10K that surrounds Spring Lake.

Koehler, in her green tie-dyed Becoming Independent T-shirt, will take on the full 10K with her dad, Pete.

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