Lisa Fenn
Former ESPN Producer
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An 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, OH.  Leroy, who lost his legs in a childhood train accident, was often found on the back of the legally blind and homeless Dartanyon.  Together, they helped each other through school—Dartanyon carrying Leroy up the stairs as there was no elevator and Leroy reading the print on Dartanyon’s assignments.  Dartanyon’s and Leroy’s cheerful and unparalleled friendship added a bit of light to the dark and dreary halls of the poor, inner-city public school they attended.

A native raised on the “other side” of Cleveland, 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” 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 Design 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.  He secured the bronze medal.

A sought-after presenter, Fenn speaks with warmth and candor about her experiences with Leroy, Dartanyon, poverty 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.

Speech Topics

  • Carry On: Why I Stayed
    Former ESPN producer Lisa Fenn shares the story of how she formed an unlikely family with Dartanyon Crockett and Leroy Sutton, two high school senior wrestlers who she covered in 2009. The three permanently altered the courses of each other's lives. Leroy, who lost his legs in a childhood train accident, was often found on the back of the legally blind and homeless Dartanyon. Two remarkable individuals without the means or opportunities to succeed were in dire need of guidance. While there is nothing about Leroy, Dartanyon and Lisa that landed itself to an obvious bond, they forged community within each other. Lisa describes their ongoing journey together with Dartanyon, now a Paralympic bronze medalist and Leroy, a college graduate.
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