Features
Heart of a champion
Jazzy Jordan struck a chord with truckers, all while raising awareness and funds for medical needs in run across America

By Charlie Morasch
staff writer

 

She’d prepared for every moment except the finish.

Running into the heart of New York City at Times Square, tears streamed down Jasmine Jordan’s face, already pink from the midday sun and the pain of 3,161 miles in nine months.

In an instant, the city’s iconic Yellow cabs stood still. Police stopped all traffic at the intersection of 43rd and Broadway as a crowd gathered to welcome her.

Flanked by mom Paulette, dad Lee and brother Levi, Jazzy raised her arms and crossed a pink finish line.

She turned and took off the black jacket she wore as a tribute to the late Sheila Grothe, a family friend whose 2009 death from cancer spurred Jazzy to run from California to New York.

Handing the jacket to Randy Grothe, Sheila’s husband, the two hugged and cried. She was handed flowers and Gatorade.

In a New York minute, Jazzy’s “Run Across America” was over.

“I’m just in shock to be here right now,” Jazzy said, looking at the crowded sidewalks and brightly lit skyscrapers. “I actually didn’t think about this too much.”

The challenge made Jazzy the youngest female to run across the U.S. and positioned a fledgling trucking charity to raise enough money to help 200 truckers and their families.

The run also was a beast fed by daily runs through sweltering desert temperatures and biting snowstorms, hundreds of interviews with local newspapers and TV stations, and pasta dinners made in the Jordan family RV.

A driver in Arkansas nearly ran into Jazzy as she ran on the shoulder, and another ran into Lee’s truck as she prepared to run in early May.

Despite deeply pained hips, strained ligaments and most likely several stress fractures, Jazzy wouldn’t change a thing.

“I’m going to miss getting up every morning, getting doughnuts, running and struggling,” Jazzy said moments after the journey ended. “I’ve met so many people along the way – so many truckers. I wouldn’t trade this for anything in the world. I’m here – I made it!”

Dr. John McElligott, who helped found the St. Christopher Fund, called Jazzy one of “the most committed and inspirational individuals I have ever met and probably will ever meet in my life.”

“The funds raised by Jazzy for the St. Christopher Truckers Development and Relief Fund helped many a driver to receive much needed health care, and saved many drivers and their families from becoming homeless,” he said.

Thousands of truckers followed Jazzy’s sprint to the finish in New York on June 15, via Land Line’s exclusive on the ground coverage and tuning in to hear her immediate post-run interview on Land Line Now.

Along the way, she met several truckers who donated to the St. Christopher Fund on the spot, and exchanged letters and e-mails with thousands of drivers she inspired. Many began their own exercise regimens, and became cheerleaders of the run and the trucking charity.

Meanwhile, Jazzy maintained her 4.0 grade point average by telecommuting to several classes, and studying in between runs.

Work schedules and New York’s lack of truck-friendly routes may have kept most of Jazzy’s biggest supporters from being physically present at the finish line, but Manhattan’s traffic couldn’t stop them from finding a way to connect with her.

Hundreds left her messages of congratulations on her cell phone, via e-mail, on her Facebook page – anywhere or way they could – in the hours after Jazzy reached New York.

Susan Porter was one of many trucking family members that sent Jazzy heartfelt thank-yous.

“My husband called me and told me you made it to Times Square,” Susan wrote. “We are so proud for somebody standing up for these truckers. He has been driving for 36 years, and we have had a lot of tough times.

“I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart,” she wrote.

After finishing, the Jordans spent a few days in New York. They walked through Times Square and shopped late at night. Lee rented a limousine for an hour, and Jazzy took in the sights.

Within a few days, Jazzy returned to Dalton, MN, and life as a normal teenager. Jazzy says she wants to help keep the St. Christopher Fund in the news so it can help more truckers in the future.

Her entries on Facebook showed less of the athlete phenom, and more of life at home.

“Took Grandma to church today and had a nice reception at our church,” she wrote June 20. “It’s good to be home, but I’m already thinking of what I want to do next.” LL

 

charlie_morasch@landlinemag.com

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