16-year-old making cross-country trek to bring greater awareness about industry’s health issue
At some point in our lives, we are all tested. Most of the time circumstances beyond our control measure our willpower, determination and resolve.
There also are those people who seek great challenges for fame, fortune or just to prove themselves worthy.
And then there are people like Jasmine Jordan, whose concern over an important issue drives her to attempt something extraordinary. The 16-year-old Minnesota resident is running across the United States to bring awareness to the plight of the many truck drivers without proper access to good health care.
Her cross-country run officially began Sept. 1 in California, but the inspiration for the journey was born out of tragedy this past April 17, when a family friend and truck driver who worked for her dad’s small trucking fleet and pilot car company died of cancer.
Jazzy, as she is known to family and friends, visited 38-year-old Sheila Grothe just prior to her death. Grothe’s two children and husband were at her bedside. “It broke my heart to see her like that and what it was doing to her family,” Jazzy says. “I decided then I wanted to do something to bring awareness to all the truckers without proper medical coverage.”
Jazzy, who had been training for a shot at the 2012 Summer Olympics, discussed the cause with her dad, Lee Jordan. They discovered the St. Christopher Truckers Development and Relief Fund – better known as “the truckers fund” – a non-profit organization dedicated to providing financial assistance to truckers who have medical problems and cannot otherwise afford health care.
With the SCF as the backbone of their plan, they began to cobble together sponsors and generate interest in the run. Lee, who regularly drives one of his trucks, admits it’s already been a sacrifice. He is taking a year away from the road and has taken one of his pilot cars out of the fleet to use to escort his daughter during her run. “It’s possible it could hurt my business, but I can always buy more trucks,” he says. “Jazzy wants to do this. It’s important to her, and she’s my daughter. I would do anything for her.”
Jazzy, a 4.0 student, is keeping up with her schoolwork thanks to a deal worked out with her high school. She will use a webcam and the Internet to complete her junior year during the run.
She has set a personal goal to finish the 3,000-mile-plus run on April 17 – the first anniversary of Sheila’s death. Tentatively, the finish line will be in Times Square in New York City. She is trying to average 15 miles per day, which means her run will take approximately 252 days if all goes well.
While the Jordans haven’t been able to officially verify it, they say if Jazzy completes the run she may become the youngest person to run across the United States.
I caught up with Jazzy and Lee via phone on Sept. 8 as they were just east of Twentynine Palms, Calif. Because of the heat, she was only able to run a few miles the first day, but had logged 19 miles on Sept. 7 for a total of 83.6 miles at that point.
“The heat has been something I’ve had to adjust to,” Jazzy says. “But I’m not going to give up until I’m done.”
Lee says he is treasuring the unusual amount of time he is getting to spend with his daughter and is inspired by her determination.
“This young lady is tackling issues that most young people don’t even think about,” he says. “And she is doing it for a great cause.”
Like the general public, the trucking industry has its share of health issues it’s just beginning to tackle. At Truckers News, we have made drivers’ health a major part of our coverage with our Fit for the Road program. We are behind Jazzy’s goal and salute her determination and drive.
Run, Jazzy, run.
Both Jasmine “Jazzy” and Lee Jordan say they want the trucking industry to get behind the 3,000-mile-plus cross-country run aimed at greater awareness for proper health care for truckers.