Vote 4 Jamie
Wow, what a weekend! I was really worried I might not make it to Tahoe for the Xterra USA Championship with all of the infections that kept popping up. But I am happy to say I did and what an amazing weekend it was!
Friday and Saturday, a silent auction was held in my honor to help with the growing medical expenses. There were so many items that were donated by pros, friends and sponsors. Melanie McQuaid walked up with a bag full of items and two baskets of Natures Path goodies, one for Courtney and me and one for the auction. I was so grateful. Several other pros (Conrad, Jenny Smith, Josiah Midaugh, Mike Vine, Seth Wealing, Chris Leigh, Shonny Vanlandingham and so many more) donated things like jersey's, coaching, tires and other stuff. Ned Overend donated a signed jersey and a Specialized bike. Even my old sponsor and good friend Jim Felt got in on the giving by donating a cruiser bike! One guy donated his 29er bike. I can't even begin to name everything that was there and I can't even begin to THANK everyone for their support! I will mention how much I appreciate Janet Soule for putting this all together and for bearing the cold while she collected all the payments throughout the silent auction. She had some help from her hubby and my best bud, Cliff Millemann, Amber Monforte, and Linda Lindsey! Thanks again guys!
Team Unlimited also came up with an awesome T-shirt just for me! On the front it said "J-Dawg Crew" and on the back was "Keep the Faith Tour" with a list of every place I won in the U.S. and abroad. $20 for every shirt sold is being donated to me and you can still order them atwww.xterragear.com You can choose between black or blue!
Seeing everyone wear the T-shirts around brought me to tears. You just never know what people think about you or what kind of a difference you make until a time like this. A time when you need help. I have spent the last nine months fighting cancer, fighting infections and dealing with being disabled. It isn't easy. It isn't easy to realize I won't ever race as a pro and that I need to reinvent myself. I will say one thing, having the love and support from everyone in the Xterra family has made me know I can keep on fighting and that I do make a difference!
Saturday night I was honored with the Xterra Warrior award. It started out with Whit Raymond making us tear up while he talked about me, then a video of my racing over the past few years along with interviews from Conrad, Melanie, Jenny and Shonny Vanlandingham. When Conrad started to speak I lost it completely. All of them said such wonderful things about me, about what I meant to them and to Xterra. It was Melanie who pointed out how as professional athletes we expect to go out on our own terms, not something like this in the middle of our prime! As I continued to watch the video tears kept rolling from my eyes. I couldn't hold them back, I didn't want to. They were tears of sadness and happiness! I was sad at the reality that in that short video was my entire career and happiness that in that short time I made a huge impact on others and I am continuing to do so!
I am pretty sure there was not a dry eye in the room. I hobbled up to the podium to give a little speech. I talked about when I first heard I had cancer and then when I found out I may never walk or run again. I joked about losing my glute muscle (I said I could do things "half assed" now.) I don't remember much else because I was so overwhelmed with emotions but I do remember saying I may never compete in the pro category but don't count me out as a Challenged Athlete!
I really was shocked and had no idea I was receiving this award. My good friend Bryan Medrano was the first to get it for his battle with Huntington's disease and I have sat at world's every year watching each new recipient get this amazing award. I always wanted to earn this award, just not this way!! I want to Thank Team Unlimited for giving me this award, it means so much to me!
As tired as I was, it took me awhile to fall asleep. I was having such a blast seeing all my friends and talking with so many people. I could really feel the love. I could even feel myself getting stronger and more determined to continue to fight.
Sunday morning I rolled out of bed early and eager to see the start of the race! As I walked along the sand with my walker Whit came up to me to ask a few questions on the mic. I told everyone congratulations for qualifying for this race and to remember to race hard, to not give up on the bike and to not walk on the run because I can't do any of that! Once the gun went off I continued to answer questions and give insight on the race. I had so much fun doing that during the swim I made my way to transition to continue to help. I was on a roll. I was joking about some of my friends and giving serious insight on the pros as well as the course itself. Clay, one of the announcers, kept saying "I should sign my check over to you right now." Then I was asked to hold the finish line for the first pro male and female winner! I was honored once again. I stood there, with my Dad holding the other side as my long time friend Mike Vine from Canada finally picked up the win. He has finished second three times before but never taken the victory. He dedicated his win to me and said he kept fighting hard so he could win in my honor. Then when Melanie came in first she came over and hugged me tightly saying it just isn't the same without you. She also said she was out there racing not only for herself but for the both of us. I tell you I just couldn't stop crying! Others, like the first amateur Joshua Olmstead (a good friend) dedicated his race to me. He raced with a sticker "Go Jamie" on the top tube of his bike to remind him not to give up.
The awards podium continued to keep the tears coming with Melanie and Mike and several others saying such nice things about me. Meg (aka peg leg Meg), a below the knee amputee who was the first female challenged athlete to race in Tahoe stood on the podium and said she is afraid of when I come back to racing. I laughed as I wiped my tears. I am excited to have some competition! I have awhile until I will be able to make my way back to racing so I hope Meg is still competing!
I am blown away by this weekend. I never imagined it was going to be as exciting as it was. Being able to help commentate made me feel like I was still part of the race . . . Still part of Xterra. I am not ready to leave the scene. I am passionate about this sport and want to continue to do what I can to stay a part of it! I have been telling people to make sure you email Xterra and tell them how much you enjoyed listening to me and how much you want to hear me at the races. I don't want to take anyone's job I just want to be the "Color Commentator!" So vote for Jamie!!
I needed a few days to recover from the weekend but I am doing fine! I am now walking a mile in the morning and a mile in the evening. It still isn't very fast but at least I am doing it! I enjoy the time in the evening with Courtney because we get to talk about our day! It is something I recommend doing.
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