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A true champion

Linda Guerrette
Vail CO, Colorado

Dream it, plan it, and do it. This is exactly what Kerry White did when she crossed the finish line in Atlantic City on Saturday, June 24. Over a year ago, Kerry set out to race in the solo category in the Race Across America. She knows this race very well from being a two-time winner in the four-women team category.

After many miles riding in the saddle, hours of logistical planning, and organizing a crew that would help her realize a dream, she began her journey in Oceanside, Calif. On the start line, she was among five solo women in this year’s race. It is a long race, and many strategies come into play but remembering to race your own race is key.

As the race developed, her competitors were showing signs of fatigue while Kerry was thriving in the mountains. One by one, the other women abandoned their quests for the finish line. Kerry pressed on with determination and grit to get to the next cut-off time station, El Dorado, Kan. At that point Kerry was a few hours off the mark but still very much in the race. Her time splits were increasing and the race officials remained optimistic that she would be able to make the last time cutoff in Indianapolis, Ind.

To have faster speeds, the rider has to minimize time off the bike. Kerry was dealing with saddle sores as well the complications of being a type 1 diabetic. She was checking her blood sugar every hour to two hours. Most of the time she would check it while rolling down the road but if she needed insulin or food she would need to stop. Kerry reduced her off the bike time by taking five- to 10-minute cat naps on the side instead of sustained sleep.

After passing through Jefferson City on her way to Marthasville, Mo. it became obvious to Kerry and her crew that she was not going to make the next cut-off time. The crew had already been watching her amazing display of courage and determination. They were there to back whatever decision Kerry would make. In their eyes, she was already a champion. As rain began to fall, Kerry stopped briefly to put on rain gear and inform the crew about her plans. She was going to finish what she started ” to get to Atlantic City as fast as she could. At that moment, I believe the journey changed for Kerry and everyone watching this race. Every fiber of one’s being is affected by this race. It makes you dig deeper than you can ever imagine on all levels: mentally, physically, and spiritually.

What the crew, other competitors, race officials and organizers, and spectators, witnessed is the mark of a true champion. Kerry’s true character was shining bright for the entire world to see. What she represented out there was hope. Hope to believe in yourself. Hope to have dreams and follow them. Hope in humanity and their support. Without hope it is difficult to press on. One of Kerry’s goals at the beginning of all of this was to be a role model for people with Type 1 diabetes. She is an ordinary person with an enormous amount of determination and hope to live a “normal” life. She wishes that people whether they have Type 1 diabetes or not will realize they can do anything they set their minds to do ” never give up hope and keep dreaming.

In many ways, Kerry probably touched more people through her perseverance and never giving up, than had she won the race. Following behind her for thousands of miles, her crew watched her go through transformations; her body composition changed and her ability to push harder gears diminished, but her incredible mental fortitude and her consistent metronome pedal stroke never faltered. She had a plan and executed that plan with character and style. Her incredible determination, exceptional skill and extremely bright personality, even in the face of adversity, proved an inspiration to people across the county. It was apparent that Kerry was leaving her mark along the way as passers by would stop to cheer her on and acknowledge her efforts. When she rolled into Lancaster County, Penn., Time Station 54, Kerry was welcomed with a huge cheer and encouragement. Kerry had a gift for a special little girl in that region. She donated a Raleigh autographed bike to a girl with type I diabetes. This time station created a Spirit Award that was presented to Kerry for all of her effort, and truly represented what it means to be a RAAM competitor.

Supporting Kerry across this incredible countryside will forever be etched in my mind and heart. She is a true champion. Kerry thanks for giving all of us hope and encouragement to press on with our dreams and to live life to its fullest. Thanks for the ride, Chica.

E-mail comments about this column to editor@vaildaily.com.


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