Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Climbing the coal mountains

As of Wednesday, April 14, Jasmine Jordan has made her way into Knoxville, TN, an estimated 800 miles from her destination of New York City.

Jasmine, who also goes by Jazzy, is running from coast to coast to raise awareness of truckers who lack medical insurance and to raise money for the St. Christopher Truckers Development and Relief Fund.

Jasmine is the daughter of OOIDA members Lee and Paulette Jordan of Minnesota, who run their own trucking business and escort company.

A mere few weeks after meeting thousands of truckers at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, KY, the Jordans made their way through Knoxville this week to the birthplace of the St. Christopher Fund.

Knoxville is also home to Dr. John McElligott, a physician who sees mostly truck-driving patients and who helped found the St. Christopher Fund.

McElligott, a Vietnam veteran, said he ran for about a half-mile with Jazzy on Tuesday afternoon, though his son Jake and friend Kyle Roberts ran a large portion of the day with the 17-year-old runner.

“I waddled more than I ran,” Dr. John said Wednesday, with a laugh. “Those young guys took it seriously, but for me it was more of a token thing. She is amazing.”

Jazzy has brought news coverage to the St. Christopher Fund and attention to the plight of truckers who lack adequate medical care.

Dr. John said the St. Christopher Fund is doing OK, but can always use more donations.

Dr. John said the medical hotline that his Knoxville-based clinic hosts helps 50 to 75 truckers and their families every week.

“Until we get major contributors – we’re going to always be just hand to mouth,” Dr. John said.

The Jordans have decided against continuing to set planned dates to finish the run. The mountains of Tennessee and the wear and tear of distance running since last September has kept them from keeping a strict schedule.

“It’s going great,” Lee Jordan said. “I don’t know how she does these mountains like she does. Seventeen miles, 18 miles, 19 miles – she’s gotten into some pretty good hills now here in the Appalachians. We’re just going to do what we can.”