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Jeff Kolpack, Published January 19 2010

Dalton teen runs for causes cross-country

If the thought of running a marathon is just out of the question for you, than ponder this: 17-year-old Jasmine Jordan from Dalton, Minn., is running across the United States.

Yep, coast to coast. From San Diego to New York City. One step at a time.

“It’s physically harder than what I thought,” she said. “Mentally, I haven’t hit the stage yet where I just want to be done, so that’s good.”

Jordan is currently running through Texas. The quest started in September, was derailed for six weeks because of a stress fracture and last weekend was in Abilene, Texas.

She’s accompanied by her father, Lee Jordan, who follows her in a recreational vehicle.

“There have been no problems at all other than putting up with my cooking,” he said. “She’s been very tough and has held up well.”

The plan is take a turn north in Arkansas and continue northeast through Tennessee and North Carolina. She’ll get a nice view of Washington D.C. and move up the coast to New York.

Sound crazy?

Consider why she’s doing it. The family owns a trucking and pilot car business and Jasmine is running in memory of one of their employees. Sheila Grothe died of cancer last April and Jasmine said she wants to bring awareness for a lack of health care in the United States for small businesses and also raise money for the St. Christopher Trucker Fund, a non-profit organization that provides assistance to truckers with medical needs.

“The same night she passed away, I went to work out because I was just so upset and just needed to think to myself,” she said. “The next morning is when I decided to do this.”

If successful, she would lay claim to the youngest female to run across the country. Last month, Katie Visco of Glen Ellyn, Ill., finished the 3,132 miles in San Diego and at 23 years old, has the record for the youngest to do so, according to her Web site.

So far for Jordan, it’s been a lesson in geography – it’s a big country out there.

“Yeah, it sure is,” she said.

The most taxing part to date were spiders and snakes crossing the road in Arizona. How big?

“Big enough,” she said. “Spiders scare me, that’s my biggest fear. I have nightmares about them.”

A junior at Ashby High School, she’s taking online classes – two through Ashby and a couple of more through Apex Learning, a digital education company.

She’s averaging between 17 and 24 miles per day. When contacted by phone late last week, she was icing her feet.

“They hurt a little bit sometimes but mostly they’re doing pretty well,” she said.

The quest stopped in Denning, N.M., because of the injury, a six-week rest where she came back to western Minnesota. The trek started up again on Dec. 1.

She’s had several companion runners along the way, which to date is her best memory. There were “kids who weighed about 29 pounds” skipping football practice to jog a few miles with her. Various military personnel have joined the cause.

One person in west Texas saw the Jordan brigade, drove ahead three miles, ran back to Jordan and proceeded to run with her.

The weather has been good. There was a light snow one day and only one rainy day to date. She talked to a middle school class in one small town.

Running across the country is something that occurs from time to time. Last week, partially paralyzed runner Bruce Johnson of Elgin, Ill., began his pursuit of becoming one of the few people to do it twice, starting this time on the East Coast in Florida.

As for Jordan, once will probably be enough. She wants to finish April 17, the date Sheila Grothe died.

“I’m going to push it really hard because that date means a lot to me,” she said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Jeff Kolpack at (701) 241-5546