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  • Kristin Fleschner

August 2019: Advocacy, Athletics & Adventures

I’ve had an epic month that even the best fiction author could not write. The end of June and beginning of July were packed with the US Para Road and Track Cycling National Championships, which were held in Knoxville, TN and Carson, California. I took a pit stop in Indiana, and then to the Federal Courthouse in Long Island, New York to speak to tenth graders at court camp. Read on for the details!


PD: Carolyn Defoore Pilots Kristin Fleschner across the finish line of the road race. Kristin has her hands clasped above her head and they both have big smiles on their faces. Kristin’s dad, Steve is standing to the left of the finish line with a big smile on his face and he is clapping. They have just crossed through a large finish line banner that says USA Cycling National Championship. There is a motorcycle about 50 meters behind them.
PD: Carolyn Defoore Pilots Kristin Fleschner across the finish line of the road race. Kristin has her hands clasped above her head and they both have big smiles on their faces. Kristin’s dad, Steve is standing to the left of the finish line with a big smile on his face and he is clapping. They have just crossed through a large finish line banner that says USA Cycling National Championship. There is a motorcycle about 50 meters behind them.

VICTORY at Road Nats with brand new pilot, Carolyn Defoore made for a sweet introduction! She got on the tandem for the first time the night before our race, when we also experienced a mechanical problem that took us to the pavement! Her cleat broke five minutes before our first race, but it did not phase her and she still piloted me to a silver in the time trial and a gold later in the week in the road race, where I am now a two-time national champion. I learned so much from Carolyn and gained a new friend.

PD: Carolyn Defoore and Kristin Fleschner stand on the top of the podium each with a hand in the air. They have on their Stars and Stripes jerseys and gold medals and Carolyn is looking at Kristin smiling.
PD: Carolyn Defoore and Kristin Fleschner stand on the top of the podium each with a hand in the air. They have on their Stars and Stripes jerseys and gold medals and Carolyn is looking at Kristin smiling.

PD: Kristin Fleschner and her pilot Carolyn during the Para Cycling Road Nationals. They are on a highway segment, crossing over a body of water, with the Knoxville skyline as the backdrop. It looks very hot and sunny!
PD: Kristin Fleschner and her pilot Carolyn during the Para Cycling Road Nationals. They are on a highway segment, crossing over a body of water, with the Knoxville skyline as the backdrop. It looks very hot and sunny!

TEAMMATES are important. My dad had the opportunity to see me race in Knoxville for the first time. It was amazing to have him there as support and helped him understand what I am doing with a lot of my time these days. We drive from Knoxville to Indiana where we celebrated his 70th birthday on the 4th of July. We also celebrated my sister and mom’s birthdays within the same week!


I GIVE THANKS to Zoe every night for her good work, but have been squeezing her even tighter the past few weeks. While we were in Indiana, Zoe was running down the stairs at my parent’s house and slid and fell very hard and got a severe concussion. In the following days she had to get an MRI because she was experiencing scary symptoms. The results were good and she is healthy, but she had to take some time off. We have continued to see improvement and she has started working and traveling with me again, but we have to continue to work on some of her symptoms with The Seeing Eye. I traveled to California without Zoe and that was the longest we’ve ever been apart. It was a reminder of how fortunate I am to have a guide dog like Zoe for so many years with very few interruptions in her work; and how quickly that can change.

PD: Zoe is laying on the concrete drying in the sun. You can see a hose, wet rag, and pitcher in the background.
PD: Zoe is laying on the concrete drying in the sun. You can see a hose, wet rag, and pitcher in the background.

Pilot Ash Berton, gets the COURAGE award, for taking the second flight of her life and experiencing an earthquake in the same day when she arrived in LA for US Para Track Nationals! It was only our third time for us on the track together, and Ash’s fourth time on the track ever, but she still conquered the aero bars and we brought home two bronze medals and I got a personal best time.


Next, we headed to Long Island, NY for court camp. I was blown away by the tenth graders at the Justice Institute that I watched in the final round of the mock trial competition. These students participated in a life changing one-week court camp at the US District Court for the Eastern District of New York hosted in Long Island, hosted by Judge Bianco. I had a chance to speak to them on their last day, and I left feeling so much HOPE for our future.

PD: Kristin is standing behind a blue podium in front of a colorful mural delivering her speech to the high school students at the Justice Institute. Zoe is laying next to the podium.
PD: Kristin is standing behind a blue podium in front of a colorful mural delivering her speech to the high school students at the Justice Institute. Zoe is laying next to the podium.

I was shocked to find out that while I was traveling the DC/Northern Virginia area experienced flash flooding that affected my apartment building. Since I was not home it was not discovered that my apartment was flooded and there was a lot of damage. Several friends (and a brother) have been HEROS and HEROINES in my life during the past few weeks, helping with cleaning, moving, and hosting Zoe and me in their homes. This event solidifies my belief that relationships and experiences are so much more valuable than things. The items that I was most upset about not being able to replace were things that memorialized those relationships and experiences. Letters from loved ones and a t-shirt quilt that was a graduation present and had t-shirts all the way back from kindergarten. Simple gestures of EMPATHY and KINDNESS from new and old friends made the event bearable for both Zoe and me.


Zoe, wearing her harness and a red bandana, is lying down and sprawled out on Kristin's t-shirt quilt. The quilt is comprised of square cut outs of 36 different t-shirts, such as: 'Team Diabetes', 'Hoosier Girls State', 'Indianapolis Marathon', Vanderbilt', and more.
PD: Zoe, wearing her harness and a red bandana, is lying down and sprawled out on Kristin's t-shirt quilt. The quilt is comprised of square cut outs of 36 different t-shirts, such as: 'Team Diabetes', 'Hoosier Girls State', 'Indianapolis Marathon', Vanderbilt', and more.

PD: Zoe lays in a new crate that is bright orange and yellow. She has three new stuffies next to her. She looks alert if not a bit confused!
PD: Zoe lays in a new crate that is bright orange and yellow. She has three new stuffies next to her. She looks alert if not a bit confused!

A 14 month old Seeing Eye puppy went missing in early June from her puppy raisers house and we have been trying to spread the word, but there are still no updates or sighting of Ondrea the puppy. To read our Facebook post with more information, click this link.


PD: A poster showing a picture Ondrea, a petite black and tan German shepherd with the following text: LOST DOG, German Shepherd, Female, Name: Ondrea, 50 lbs, Microchipped & Tattooed, Seeing Eye puppy. $5,000 REWARD, 973-525-1084
PD: A poster showing a picture Ondrea, a petite black and tan German shepherd with the following text: LOST DOG, German Shepherd, Female, Name: Ondrea, 50 lbs, Microchipped & Tattooed, Seeing Eye puppy. $5,000 REWARD, 973-525-1084


TAKE NOTE:

We are putting our plans together for the fall. If you are interested in having me speak at your workplace, at a conference, event or an event for Disability Awareness Month in October, please reach out at contact@kristinfleschner.com


We also have space for a limited number of consulting clients at this time. Please reach out to us if you have questions on our work or your needs.


Music and Meditation are important to me, and it’s how Zoe and I start our day. Each newsletter, we will be highlighting a song or piece from our mindfulness practice that we want to share.


This month we've got Lizzo's Juice on repeat. We love the talented singer and rapper for incorporating themes of confidence and self-love into her music. Lizzo is also a talented flautist.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XaCrQL_8eMY (explicit language)


What are you listening to this month? Post a pic or video and tag #ZoesPack.


Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter to read interesting articles about disability issues—these posts are different than our social media posts on Facebook and Instagram.

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