Family taking bicycle tour to raise money

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Shauna Jackson first started bicycling to kick a smoking habit.

Now, the 55-year-old Grand Junction woman bikes for something more rewarding.

Jackson rides every year in the Courage Classic to raise money for Children’s Hospital.

Each participant is required to raise at least $300 to ride. It’s never been a problem, but this year, it’s been a lot harder to raise with the economy.

Jackson raised more than $1,000 last year and has $685 this year. Anyone wishing to donate money to the cause can log on to to donate to the hospital or pledge for a specific rider.

This year’s 20th anniversary three-day, 157-mile tour is July 25-27 beginning in Leadville. The ride goes to Copper Mountain on Day 1. Day 2 takes the riders through Frisco and Breckenridge and back to Copper Mountain. The final day’s journey is back to Leadville over Fremont Pass.

“Every year it gets harder and harder physically,” Jackson said. “It is so rewarding.

Physically it’s rewarding because look what I can do. I look at the kids and some of the people that are handicapped. I look at the families that are carrying their trailers. I remember one lady and thinking, ‘Why is that bicycle listing to the left?’

“I finally got up to her and she only had one leg. She was an amputee at the hip. She had this saddle that was built up and she was pedaling like crazy.

“There’s been a lady on the last several tours in a hand-driven cycle. The last couple years, there’s one lady with a Labrador missing a leg from cancer in a gurney-type stretcher.”

The handicapped riders are part of Team Courage. They are current and former Children’s Hospital patients and their families.

That’s what lures Jackson back every year for the event. She’s attended it every year since 1997, except four years when the family lived in Maui.

She has always gone with a group of female friends, but last year, her friends decided they were done.

Jackson, however, wasn’t done.

“My boyfriend, aka, husband of 30 years, said he’d do it with me,” she said. “I was like, ‘but oh, you don’t understand, this is a girls’ trip.’ He said, ‘Why don’t you do it by yourself?’ I’m a social creature. Why would I want to go by myself? He said he’d do it with me. I said, ‘You don’t even have a bicycle.’ He said, ‘I’ll use your old Bridgestone.’

We went on a couple rides, then one Saturday, we did like a 32 Road loop and stopped at Main Street Bagels to have a latté. He said, ‘There’s Brown’s (bicycle shop), let’s go take a look around,’ and we walked out with two new bicycles.”

Last year was the first time they did the Classic together.

“It was kind of funny,” Jackson said. “We said, ‘It’s either going to be a great bonding experience for the both of us or we’re going to end up in counseling when we get back.’ This year, he’s my new riding buddy and now we got our son-in-law (Jeremy Smith) to join us.”

Jackson’s husband, Lindsey, had such a great experience the first year he intends to ride the tour every year.

“The Team Courage kids are phenomenal,” he said. “They do the whole ride. They give you energy. There was a girl last year riding that was on oxygen the entire time.

That’s what you see.

“It makes you want to make it without walking. This is something we’ve enjoyed doing together.”

Smith was motivated to try the tour because of the scenery.

“It sounded like a lot of fun ... until I heard how many miles,” he said. “The scenery you see will be awesome. It will be a lot of fun.”

On the final day, Jackson takes time to watch many of the disabled participants complete the journey.

“Every one that comes through that arch gets a medal,” Jackson said. “It’s not about winning or losing. It’s about finishing the ride. Team Courage is always the last group.

You watch Team Courage come in. Between those kids and volunteers of that ride, it will bring tears to your eyes every time. The volunteers are unbelievable.”


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