Wow- 2020 was quite the ride. A pandemic, wildfires, unrest amongst our neighbors and finally, the Olympics being postponed an entire year. I’m grateful to be able to write to you all today.
I had a great early season thanks to your support- I was able to race in Tasmania Australia with my guide Kirsten Sass, winning a silver medal and securing the top ranking in the USA and #6 in the world. We then traveled to the Pan American Championships in March, only to be told to turn around and go home immediately due to cancellation less than 24 hours before the race because of the virus.
I was able to have generous support during quarantine from local friends and companies- a friend loaned her backyard pool so I could do some abbreviated swimming with a tether tied to the ledge for resistance, and Primo Fitness gave me a slightly used commercial treadmill as I can’t run with other people for health reasons and gyms were shut for indoor cardio. Adapt and overcome is my motto, and I was able to do that with their help.
This summer my autoimmune disease came out of remission causing major damage to my shoulder and swelling throughout my body and bone disintegration due to hypophosphatasia. I had 7 surgeries from October to December and ended up with a pulmonary embolism and an infarction (like a heart attack MI but in your lung). Thanks to my amazing medical team I’m back to training, albeit carefully and preparing for the Pan American Championships in March.
Team USA was badly financially hurt and our funding has come to a halt. As you know, the United States is the only country in the world that doesn’t have government funding for their athletes and we rely on personal sponsors and public speaking to fund our training and racing. Speaking engagements have come to a halt due to the pandemic leaving me struggling with 9 hard weeks of training, doctors appointments and PT.
It will take $600 per week/ $20K to arrive to Tokyo in the best possible physical condition and to afford the treatment to get there. This week I had 13 appointments with just the various specialists to get me back to health. Endocrinologists, Pulmonologists, General Practitioner, Pain Management specialist, Cardiologist, Hematologists and more plus Physical Therapy three days a week and transit. But progress has been made and we are cautiously optimistic that the worst is behind me.
I know this has been a hard year for every single American. Your help can keep my Paralympic dream from being derailed despite terrible setbacks this fall and keep me on the ever-winding road to Tokyo. I am more determined than ever thanks to my amazing coach and the progress we were making this summer where I hit personal best times in Swim, bike and Run. The medal is within my grasp if I’m able to compete and be healthy by the time the season starts. As Helen Keller said best, “Walking together in the dark is better than walking alone in the light.” Thank you so much for all you’ve given to get me to this point. The finish line is in sight. God Bless you all and the United States.
With Love and Gratitude,