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Jordan crosses Farragut during trans-U.S. run

Jasmine “Jazzy” Jordan would rather run along Kingston Pike than run in the Olympic Games.

It’s all about the pain of April 17, 2009, and what the few miles this Minnesota teenager ran on Kingston Pike Tuesday afternoon, April 13, represented: beginning the final 800 miles of a 3,000-mile cross-county run to raise awareness about truck drivers’ medical expenses.

Burned into Jasmine’s emotional makeup as the daughter of a former trucker is the memory of Sheila Gothe, a trucker whose death from cancer April 17, 2009 was hastened by the inability to pay for medical care.

“When we lost Sheila, that night changed everything,” said Jazzy, who has made countless sacrifices to begin her journey in California Sept. 1, 2009. She runs between 17 and 20 miles per day and has overcome broken bones, intense fatigue and temperatures ranging from 118 degrees to 17.

The final destination is New York City, N.Y. “sometime this spring.”

However, “I would never change my mind about doing this run,” she added.

At the funeral home with Sheila, “I couldn’t stop crying when I saw her,” Jazzy said. “It didn’t even look like her. I was just really hard to see and watch her family and just not being able to do anything for her.

“She was only 38.”

Moreover, because of the mounting medical expenses, “the family lost their house,” Jazzy said.

With the one year anniversary approaching, “I wanted to go back home and visit her gravesite, but it’s just too expensive to do that,” she said.

Because of her cross-country awareness run, Jazzy is missing much more than her senior prom and boyfriends: her ambition to run in the 2012 Olympics “won’t happen.”

However, “This run means so much more to me than the Olympics,” she added. “I still have my senior year for prom, so that’s not a big deal. This run means so much more to me than a prom.”

About her sacrifices, “It’s hard to be away from my little brother,” she said of Levi, 13. “It’s been hard on him because my mom’s out working.

“I don’t know how the truckers do it, I honestly don’t,” Jazzy added. “It’s amazing what they do.”

Jazzy has teamed up with Knox County-based St. Christopher Truckers Development & Relief Fund, a national leader in providing financial assistance to professional truck drivers who have medical problems and cannot otherwise afford healthcare.

St. Christopher, whose leadership includes Skip Williams of West Knoxville as its event coordinator, has helped mend Jazzy along the way.

“They [St. Christopher] helped me get chiropractors to get my back adjusted,” she said, specifically pointing to Dr. John McElligott, fund treasurer, and Williams.

“I’m so glad to pick this organization to run for.”

Despite suffering a stress fracture in her foot in New Mexico that set back the journey about six weeks, “Jazzy was so determined, she was going to go on crutches,” said Lee Jordan, Jazzy’s father whose been by her side the first 2,200 miles.

“The pain that she goes through, the shin splits, the tears, they rip dad up,” Lee added. “That’s the hardest part of the trip for me. Jazzy’s well being has been on my mind ever since we left California, how she’s going to take it.”

Jazzy said the stress fracture “was really, really hard to deal with. I want to keep going and fight through it, but I would have ended up having surgery if I did that.

“My knees hurt a lot. My feet always hurt, but that’s part of it and I knew that was going to happen,” she added. “I’ve had my hamstrings tighten up on me. My back goes out all the time.”

One “bad incident” in Arkansas involved an impatient pick-up truck driver “who came up in front of her by four feet,” Lee said. “It was hard for me to make a decision to let this run continue or not at that point.”

However, “She told me to suck it up,” Lee added. “Other than that the traffic’s been great. She’s had many, many police escorts.”

Lee said firefighters “have come out and escorted her as well as run with her. Cooked for us.”

Those local efforts included Jazzy running alongside a handful of volunteers from Knox Metro Firefighters Association.

Williams said it’s “just unbelievable what she’s done and gotten this far. It’s a testament to her courage and fortitude. She’s quite a young lady.”


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