Friday, October 16, 2009

A mother’s love

On Monday, Oct. 12, Jasmine Jordan crossed into New Mexico from Arizona – the third state the 16-year-old has run through as she makes her eastward trek across the U.S.

Jordan, daughter of OOIDA members Lee and Paulette Jordan, is running 100 miles per week across the U.S. in an effort to bring awareness to rising health care expenses and to fundraise for a truckers’ medical charity called the St. Christopher Fund.

Crossing into New Mexico, Jasmine has been followed closely in a pickup by Lee Jordan, who calls out distances and calls for water breaks.

Jasmine’s other parent, however, also is with her for every step.

Paulette and employees of the family’s two businesses are manning the home front as Lee and Jasmine make their way eastward across southern highways.

Jasmine’s mother, Paulette, manages the family’s two trucking businesses and rural property while raising Jasmine’s 13-year-old brother and hosting a foreign exchange student from Germany.

Mother and daughter talk almost daily by phone, and exchange stories and encouragement with text messages on days when they can’t talk.

“She keeps telling me she misses me,” Jasmine said.

Paulette says hearing details of Jasmine’s adventure soothes the stresses of being the only parent at home, while running the businesses.

“It’s been difficult,” Paulette said Wednesday during a rare day off at home. “But when my kids have a goal – we look at it, review it, and I ask, ‘what do we need to do to get this done?’ And it’s also Jordan enterprises. If it wasn’t for my drivers, I’d also be dead in the water.”

Paulette loved hearing about Jasmine’s story from earlier this week, when a New Mexico state trooper and avid distance runner joined her.

The officer ran for more than 5 miles of Jasmine’s run that day, choosing to ride in the truck for a large portion of her 15-20 miles rather than keep up with a pace of around 7 minutes and 30 seconds per mile.

“That was really cool,” Jasmine recalled telling her mom.

Jasmine has been suffering from severe shin splint pain in recent weeks, and switched to running in the grassy median this week after finding that New Mexico’s shoulders were paved in unforgiving concrete.

Jasmine and Paulette traveled to Kansas last spring to participate in a track camp. Jasmine’s expenses were paid for by the Ann Bancroft Foundation, a nonprofit group that funds “small experiences for girls who may not recognize their own potential or have the courage to reach for possibilities,” according to the foundation’s Web site.

The camp provided valuable instruction on technique and avoiding injury, and helped fuel Jasmine’s dream to run across the country.

Paulette said she believes her daughter will complete the grueling journey in part because she prepared all spring and summer, and has received instruction and help from chiropractors along the way.

In addition to that preparation, Jasmine inherited her mother’s athletic DNA and has been influenced by Lee, a former pro wrestler, as well.

Paulette laughed when bringing up Lee’s sudden improvement in cooking, enough to the point that Jasmine would eat the meals prepared in the family’s RV.

“Jasmine said he’s doing very well,” Paulette said. “She’s impressed that he has stepped up. He’s getting her trained up, so he’ll be good when he gets home.”

From schooling on the road, sharing meals in the RV, and missing her friends and family, nothing is as difficult for Jasmine as the daily pounding of 16-20 miles.

Paulette asked that supporters send encouraging e-mails to help keep the 16-year-old’s spirits up.

E-mails may be sent to leejordan69@yahoo.com.

Last year, Jasmine won a 5K run in December when outside temperatures hovered around minus 30 degrees, driving most spectators and even some runners indoors.

“She will not falter – mentally, emotionally or physically,” Paulette said. “I know there is a lot of sweat and tears going on now, but that girl is stubborn and bullheaded like her mother. She will get it done.”

The Jordan’s hometown of Dalton, MN, is like a lot of small towns. Most neighbors have known each other since childhood, and conversations are typically blunt.

Some of Paulette’s friends have questioned whether Jazzy, even with her intense preparation and strong will, will complete the journey.

“I tell them, ‘You guys seem to forget that she’s my daughter.’” Paulette said, laughing. “I’m pretty strong-headed and a hard worker – and Jasmine has a lot of my qualities, thank God. She will prove everybody wrong. When you say something negative to that girl, she will turn around and make it a positive.”

To follow Jazzy’s run, find her on Facebook, Twitter or the www.runwithjazzy.com Web site.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

California truckin’

You would think the Mamas and the Papas classic hit, “California Dreamin’” would be on Joe Rajkovacz’ playlist since embarking on his 12-day journey from OOIDA’s HQ in Grain Valley, MO, to several scheduled stops in California.

But you would be wrong. He and OOIDA Life Member Bill Rode are going down the road in OOIDA’s “Spirit of the American Trucker” tapping their feet to the Philly-sound-inspired disco beat. My source tells me Rajkovacz packed two boxed sets of CDs containing enough disco music to last the entire trip.

Some OOIDA members from Littlerock, CA, dropped by to check on the two at the “Spirit” on Tuesday, Oct. 13, at the Petro in Wheeler Ridge, CA. One member said he was disappointed that the “Spirit” truck wasn’t equipped with a disco ball for atmosphere.

While it’s been quite an adventure for the two, there is serious business at hand. Rajkovacz and Rode are in California to visit with truckers about the First Observer program. OOIDA is a subcontractor for First Observer – the Transportation Security Administration’s trucking security program.

The two guys and the “Spirit” are now parked at the Clean Energy Fueling Station at the Port of Long Beach until Thursday; then they are off to set up for the Truck Show Latino in Pomona.

So if you are in the area, stop by, say hello and give Rajkovacz a hard time about his disco music. Just make sure you don’t insult “The Reverend” Al Green.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

‘You’ve got to stand for something’

Truckers carry on through all kinds of weather, which may help explain why a lashing rainstorm on Oct. 9 failed to keep some 1,300 people from making their way to the 2009 Tennessee Truck Show in Crossville, TN, to cheer show organizers Joey and Vicky Holiday and their special guest, country legend Aaron Tippin.

The rain began to relent just as the concert began in a cavernous service building at Fitzgerald Truck Sales. With guitarist Dave Sloas and background vocals and tambourine provided by Tippin’s wife, Thea, the creator of hits such as “Working Man’s Ph.D.” and “My Blue Angel” rocked the house. The muscular Tippin, clad in his “Sunday clothes” – tight red T-shirt and blue jeans – brought the crowd to their feet when he swung into “You’ve Got to Stand for Something.”

He also drew cheers when he said he and Sloas were returning to the Middle East battlefields to visit troops around Thanksgiving. He explained only the two of them go to these outposts of the War on Terror, and they just take guitars – “in case something happens and we have to run for it.” The concert, which was to benefit St. Jude Children’s hospital, raised $10,000. Afterward, Tippin signed autographs and posed with fans.

When the crowd departed, several of the rigs in the truck competition were lit up for the light show. Lights reflected off the wet pavement like a Hollywood car ad, seeming to double the number of lights on each combo.

The rest of the show was dedicated to raising money for the St. Christopher truckers’ fund. Saturday’s events included motorcycle stunt riding and recognition of the 62nd wedding anniversary of Roger and Eloise Spooner of Iron City, GA. Spooner, who at 87 still drives a dump truck, was a survivor of the sinking of the USS Yorktown in the WWII Battle of Midway.

At the other end of the matrimonial scale, OOIDA member William Payne of Carrollton, GA, married Karen Burnside on Holiday’s stage. Holiday’s granddaughter, Destiny, served as flower girl and ring bearer. The new couple had dated for a couple of years and heard about the show and decided to get married there.

Chad Smith of Hemlock, MI, won the Best of Show award, while the 9/11-themed “Truck of Honor” owned by Bogie’s Express of Tecumseh, MI, won People’s Choice Award. The proceeds from the show benefited The St. Christopher Truckers Development and Relief Fund (http://www.truckersfund.com/).

For more photos from the show, visit http://www.flickr.com/photos/hudge/sets/72157622554736840/.