We're grateful for women who show us how to soar

Nearly everywhere we look these days, we find reasons to be grateful for the role models and opportunities available to our daughters.

The 40th anniversary of the passage of Title IX, the landmark federal anti-gender discrimination law that opened doors for countless female athletes, has the nation in a similar mood.

But we don't have to stray from the Mid-Columbia to find women's accomplishments worth celebrating.

Growing wings

Pasco High alumna Quenna Beasley is still teaching us about the joy of athletic competition decades after her last track meet.

After a standout high school career that included track and field, volleyball, basketball and softball, Beasley went on to the University of Oregon, where she earned All-America status in the shot put and discus.

She is one of three female athletes from the 1985 Oregon women's track and field team who are featured in a movie, We Grew Wings, which chronicles the Ducks' climb to the NCAA Division I title.

It was the only women's title in Oregon history and the first women's squad to be immortalized in the University of Oregon Hall of Fame.

Beasley hopes to "inspire not just the young girls here, but inspire the whole universe." She's well on her way.

Taking flight

Air Race Classic 2013, a national cross-country race for women pilots, will start at the Tri-Cities Airport in Pasco.

Bergstrom Aircraft will play host to the start of the race on June 18, which is expected to draw at least 200 people, including pilots and judges.

We always welcome a chance to show the Tri-Cities to visitors. And with pilots camping out at local hotels for as long as a week leading up to the event, it's a windfall for the hospitality industry.

And at a time when women's accomplishments are on our minds, we can't help but be impressed by this 83-year-old event's ability to showcase the talents of women pilots.

The 2,500-mile course, which ends in Fayetteville, Ark., requires months of preparation and years of training.

We're thankful the event starts in Pasco next year. It will prove that there's more than one way for young women to fly.


If you think we're stretching the "flying" theme by including a pair of local ballerinas, then you've never been to a performance of the Mid-Columbia Ballet.

Erica Wend, the 18-year-old daughter of Tammy and Chris Wend of Richland, earned a $96,000 full-ride scholarship to study dance at the University of Texas in Austin.

We're certain she didn't get there without leaps that defy gravity.

Another young dancer trained at the Mid-Columbia Ballet -- Mariah Lee Shearer, the 17-year-old daughter of Rod and Marcia Shearer of Pasco -- is one of 15 American high school ballet dancers selected for the Russian American Foundation's annual youth dance program.

No one is invited to join such an elite few dancers without learning to turn ballet slippers into wings.

Shearer starts a six-week stint Saturday, studying the Russian language, culture and ballet at the renowned Bolshoi Ballet Academy in Moscow.

To every woman who reaches for the stars, we're grateful. Their pursuit of excellence in virtually every human endeavor inspires.