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

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 Web site.