A three-time Edward R. Murrow and six-time Emmy Award-winning feature producer with ESPN for 13 years, Lisa Fenn reported on major league sports interviewing every big name in the game before meeting two inspiring young boys in 2009 that changed her life – and theirs – forever. Dartanyon Crockett and Leroy Sutton were two disabled, impoverished high school wrestlers when she met them in her hometown of Cleveland, Ohio. Leroy, who lost his legs in a childhood train accident, was often found on the back of the legally blind and transient Dartanyon. Together, they helped each other through school — Dartanyon carrying Leroy up the stairs as there was no elevator to the weight room, and Leroy reading the print on Dartanyon’s assignments. Dartanyon’s and Leroy’s cheerful and unparalleled friendship added light to the dark and dreary halls of the poor, inner-city public school they attended.
A native Clevelander who was raised on the “other side” of the city, Lisa submerged herself in a world of struggle and poverty that she had been protected from her whole life. Over the course of five months, she became an integral part of the boys’ lives — tagging along to their classes, practices and team bus rides. Leroy and Dartanyon graciously accepted Lisa, and Lisa’s role in their lives grew from reporter to mother. The initial story, “Carry On,” aired in 2009 to a tremendous response and the support of thousands of viewers offering their help. Following a 2013 piece detailing how much their lives have changed in the ensuing years, USA Today and Sports Illustrated called “Carry On: Why I Stayed” the “best story ESPN had ever aired.”
In 2009, Leroy became the first person in his family to graduate from High School and in 2013 he became the first person in his family to graduate from college — receiving a degree in Video Game Production from Collins College in Arizona. Dartanyon’s life-changing offer came from the United States Olympic Committee in 2010; he was invited to learn the Paralympic sport of judo at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. He trained relentlessly and catapulted past athletes who had been training their whole lives to secure a spot in the on the Paralympic team at the 2012 London games. There, he secured the bronze medal. Dartanyon went on to win the 2014 world championships and brought home a second bronze medal from Rio in 2016.
Lisa released a memoir about their experiences together entitled Carry On: A Story of Resilience, Redemption, and an Unlikely Family, in August 2016. Carry On received an NAACP Image Award nomination for Best Literature by a Debut Author.
A sought-after presenter, Fenn speaks with warmth and candor about her experiences with Leroy, Dartanyon. She is also speaker on topics of poverty, education, disability and transracial adoption in addition to her Christian faith and its relevancy in both her media career and daily life. A graduate of Cornell University, she continues to produce sports stories and write about the redemptive power of love. Lisa has since moved from Cleveland and now resides in Boston with her husband and two young children.
"We were extremely excited to have Lisa share her story of courage and dedication. Lisa, a surprise and relatively unknown speaker to our conference participants, followed one of our nationally recognized plenary speakers and she stole our hearts and challenged our souls. Her humble, disarming and authentic way of communicating left all of us believing that our lives can count for more than we imagine if we only take advantage of the opportunities in front of us each day. Her talk turned into THE talk of our gathering."- Vision New England, GO Conference 2017
"Lisa and Dartanyon did a fantastic job in Kentucky! Their message was spot on in my opinion. Not a dry eye in the audience. We loved them! Please let them know that we are looking forward to having them join us again."- Franklin Covey
"Lisa and Dartanyon did an AMAZING job! The audience really responded well to their Keynote! There wasn't a dry eye in the house. They even received several standing ovations. I am so happy they were able to come to the event and share their story!- Franklin Covey
Thank you for all of your help and I look forward to having Lisa back next year!"
"It was the perfect way to start the day. Everyone agreed that her experience with "loving people into leaders" and the importance of being an everyday leader was right on point. All the feedback we have been receiving has been extremely positive. "- Westwood International
"Even on Saturday as our attendees were preparing to return home, they were still talking about how much you all impacted them. Your session was the highlight of the event."- Cambridge Investment Research
"Brought the house down. Two standing ovations. "- ADP