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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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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