Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Learning on the road

Jasmine Jordan hears the class bell.

She pays attention, readies her pen and may occasionally doodle alongside notes just like the other students at Fergus Falls Senior High School in St. Cloud, MN.

Jazzy, however, happens to be 1,200 miles away.

Jasmine, also known as Jazzy, is running cross country to raise awareness for medical expenses, particularly for truck drivers who lack health care options.

Followed in a pickup truck by her father, Lee Jordan, an OOIDA member, Jazzy is trekking 16 to 20 miles per day in her effort, which she plans to use to prepare for the 2012 Olympics. She can be followed on the runwithjazzy.com Web site, as well as on Twitter and Facebook.

“How far?” Jazzy asked Tuesday morning as she ran along U.S. Route 70.

“3.2 (miles),” Lee answered.

Jazzy has logged 100 miles per week since she began in September. Pounding highway asphalt in the Southwest hasn’t been easy on her, Lee said, but she’s gotten help from chiropractors and advice from Dr. John McElligott, a physician who specializes in treating professional truck drivers.

The excitement of her first few runs has given way to the daily mileage requirements, not that it’s dampened the runner’s spirit.

“Her muscles and legs are really, really sore,” Lee said. “She needs a day off. I’m not sure she’ll allow it, but I might force it.”

Between three hours of running and additional sleep and nutritional needs brought on by the grueling schedule, Lee told me Jasmine has to work hard to keep up with her schoolwork.

Lee has been reading Jasmine’s textbook assignments so he can help quiz his daughter.

The process has been educational for both of them, he said.

“I’m not a well-educated man,” Lee said, laughing. “I’m doing it, too, and it’s fun.”

Cooler temperatures in late September have allowed Jazzy to run later in the day, freeing up her mornings to study and participate in classes being taught back home in Minnesota.

Jasmine uses Skype telecommunications software in several classes. Skype provides two-way video conferencing services, allowing her to log on anywhere and speak with students and her teachers back home.

“She sees her class, and they see her,” Lee said. “It’s kind of neat.”

Of course, Jazzy's run wouldn't be possible without Paulette Jordan, Jazzy's mom and also an OOIDA member, running the family business back home in Minnesota.

"Not only is she running the business from home, but she's making runs herself," Lee said. "She's doing everything possible to keep this run going."

"She's missing her too. Jazzy's missing mom, mom's missing Jazzy."

Lee and Jasmine are staying at the Red Lamp RV and Mobile Home Park in Thatcher, AZ, where management has welcomed them with open arms, even allowing the family to park for free in support of Jazzy’s run.

This week, Jasmine passed through the San Carlos Apache Indian Reserve, where she was encouraged by many residents, Lee said.

“Everyone has been so respectful,” Lee said. “They’ve hung their heads out the windows, yelled and talked with her.”

Fuel, food and other expenses have made the trip’s budget somewhat tight, Jordan said, offering a tip of the hat to sponsors, though he says more sponsors are welcome.

“We need some more sponsors, and we need to get some T-shirts sold so we can keep going,” Lee said.

Also, Jordan’s business is looking for a driver capable of hauling a raised gooseneck trailer.

Lee laughed when asked if his daughter would slow the pace until deep muscle soreness would subside.

“Not even a suggestion of slowing down,” he said. “She won’t entertain it from me either.”