Described as ‘an athlete from the day she was born’, Christan was only ten-years old when she dove into a backyard pool. Saved by friends who kept her floating until help arrived, she was forever changed- from that moment she was forced to redirect her dream of becoming an Olympic athlete to walking again. Determined to walk again, she constantly pushes herself with exercise and training. “Each day I plant my feet on the ground,” she says, and each day she continues to make progress.
For Christan, being different has meant not accepting negative attitudes or verdicts. Her injury forced her to undergo home schooling from grade five through eight so that she could implement daily physical therapy into her schedule. although she missed all these important years in her formal education, she completed high school on track with her peer group, and earned her Undergraduate and Graduate degrees at Iona College. She holds degrees in Marketing, Humanistic Communications, and Public Relations, and she earned these degrees while continuing hours of daily physical therapy since her injury. With a background in real estate, fashion marketing, insurance and public relations, and public/motivational speaking, she and friend Boyd Melson have founded Team Fight to Walk. Together they began an odyssey to find a cure, not just for Christan, but for the many paralyzed people they met along the way.
“My life, my passion, my fight is to walk again.”
Boyd “Rainmaker” Melson is not your prototypical pugilist. Born to a French Creole father and Israeli-Polish mother, Melson played basketball as a youngster and wasn’t introduced to the sweet science until his first year at The United States Military Academy at West Point. Along the way, in 2002, Melson also met a person who would change his life forever. He met a young woman named Christan Zaccagnino who had broke her neck in 1993 at the age of 10; she continues to be wheelchair bound due to her Spinal Cord Injury.
From that point forward, one of his main goals was to help Christan walk again. Together, their mission became the needs of raise awareness about Spinal Cord Injuries and bringing Clinical Trials to the United States in search of a cure for Spinal Cord Injuries. Melson spent much of his free time educating himself about spinal cord injuries and medical procedures that may enable her to walk again. She also served as a newfound inspiration and somebody who fueled his fire to excel inside the ring.
Melson became a three time All-American, Four-TimeGold Medalist at the All Army Boxing Championships, Three-Time Armed Forces Boxing Champion, World Military Boxing Championships, Bronze Medalist at the 2005 U.S. Nationals, Silver Medalist at the 2006 U.S. Championships, and an Alternate for the 2008 U.S. Olympic Boxing Team. He is a 2005 and 2013 Jewish Sports Hall of Fame Award Recipient. In 2003, Melson earned his Army Commission upon his graduation from West Point.
Starting in 2010, Melson became a professional boxer, and he donates all of his professional boxing earnings to justadollarplease.org to help raise funds for America’s first Chronic Spinal Cord Injury Trial. Melson and Zaccagnino together founded Team Fight To Walk.
Since leaving Active Duty, Melson has worked in the private sector as a Medical Device Sales Rep for Medtronic and Johnson&Johnson. On the side, he works for Equinox Fitness Gym as a Group Fitness Instructor as well as offering personal training sessions to those interested in boxing for a workout. He is an Advisor to the start-up Stem Cell banking company “STORE-A-TOOH” where in the private sector, the company banks Stem Cells found in the Dental Pulp located in baby teeth and wisdom teeth. Melson is currently an Officer in the rank of Captain in the U.S. Army Reserves, and he is a Fellow at The Mission Continues. He holds a Masters of Business Administration from Touro University.
Loraya Harrington is the President/COO and co-founder of Gradfounder, Inc. in Brooklyn, NY. Ms. Harrington’s role is to spearhead the development, communication, and implementation of growth strategies and processes. Through collaboration with management and technical teams, Loraya is responsible for developing and carrying out plans for the operational infrastructure of Gradfounder’s processes and personnel. Previously, she served at a Fortune 100 company as a financial representative focusing on exit strategies and benefit programs for business owners throughout NYC
Loraya is a graduate of Stony Brook University with a Bachelors of Science in Health Science with concentration in Emergency and Critical Care, as well as carrying several licenses and certificates in EMS.
Anthony Epps is formerly an officer with a Fortune 100 Financial Service Institution and trained many advisors using his methods of wealth and risk management. He is also formerly a pension and business consultant with two decades of experience in the financial service industry. In 1985 he created the AG EPPS Financial Group which has been changed to AG EPPS Advisors. He specialized in private wealth management, asset management, asset protection, pension, estate, and business succession planning as well as risk management. Anthony is also an independent Registered Investment Advisor.
Epps received his BA degree from Westmar College in Lemars, Iowa and MS in Financial Services (MSFS) from The American College, Bryn Mawr, PA. He also received his designation as a Certified Financial Planner (CFP), as well as possessing a certificate in Customized Asset Management, Certified Hedge Fund Professional, Estate, Business, Succession Planning and Pension Design.
Anthony currently is a member of several organizations including the International Association of Financial Planners, Million Dollar Round Table ( MDRT- Life time member), Westchester Estate Planning Council and Executive Member of the Black Sports Agents Association. He also had the pleasure of serving as a board member to the National Minority Business Council International Trade Program as well as an Executive Committee Member of the prestigious New York Life Insurance Company Agent Advisory Council (AAC).
Anthony has received many awards, including Chabad Lubavitch of Westchester Man of the Year, Caribbean Chamber of Commerce Entrepreneur of the Year, National Congressional Committee New York Businessman of the Year and National Leadership Award. He has also appeared on ABC’s Good Morning America as well as in American Legacy, Black Enterprise, Financial Planning, and Fortune Magazines.
In addition to his business career Anthony is very committed to giving back to the community and industry. He has lectured at many institutions including universities, corporations, professional and religious organizations. He is also a devoted husband and father.