Giving Multiple Sclerosis the old ‘What for’

Jayme and I at a cross country race in South Dakota. “My grandma can run faster than you!”

That is what a 6-year-old Jayme Nunes, my best friend, yelled at the runners when her father took her to watch a cross country race for the first time. Little did Jayme know that she would join those runners in their mad-dash for the finish line.

Her first experience with running came with her first job in fifth grade. She had gotten a paper route and would rush home and run the entire paper route to get done as fast as she could. From there, her love for running grew. She started middle school cross country and then moved to the high school team when she was a freshman.

She found success in high school and got recruited to run cross country and track at Chadron State College. During her college career, she broke the indoor 5k record, and still holds the 10k record for the track and field team.

“Running has pushed me farther than I ever thought I could go, and I am grateful for that. I am also thankful for the opportunity to put on my running shoes everyday and run for a person who has taught me that giving up is never an option,” Nunes said.

One of her biggest inspirations for running is her father, Jerry. Just a year after Jayme was born, her father was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. MS is a potentially disabling disease of the brain and spinal cord. This disease attacks the immune system and causes connection problems between the brain and the rest of the body. And unfortunately, there is no cure for the disease.

Jayme, an Alliance native, remembers a time when her father could chase her and her siblings around the backyard and help her practice ballet. But as the disease has taken its toll on his body, he now spends much of his time in a wheelchair.

“He faces and overcomes small battles every day and the basic tasks that I take for granted, he struggles with. However, MS could never take away his vivacious spirit or the love he has for his family,” Nunes said.

She has a close relationship with her father and remembers him and his struggles every time she laces up her running shoes. She wants to run for those who cannot. Before every race, her father calls her and says, “Give them the old ‘What for!’” This reminds Jayme to run her best and give the race her all, every time.

Recently, Jayme applied to run a section of a 3,000 mile relay across America to raise awareness and funds to help cure Multiple Sclerosis.

During the MS Run the U.S. relay, Jayme will run a 160 mile segment of the relay beginning in Holdrege and finishing in Lincoln in just six days. That is roughly a marathon, everyday, for six days.

In order to participate in this relay, Jayme must raise $10,000 for the cause. She has many fundraisers planned and has a donation page set up so people can do what they can to help her reach her goal.

“I want people to realize that the donations are not for me. It means a lot to me that they donate to this cause because Multiple Sclerosis has had such an impact on my family, but their donations mean even more to the people living with the disease. I’m doing this for those who can’t. I want a cure for MS, but they (those suffering from the disease) are the ones who really need it,” Nunes said.

Jayme wants to help give MS the old “What for.” To donate or learn more about Jayme or MS Run the U.S., like the Facebook page “MS Run the US – Jayme Nunes,” at https://www.facebook.com/msruntheusjaymenunes/?notif_t=page_fan , or contact Jayme at her email jaymernunes@gmail.com.

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An expression of gratitude

A few weeks ago my cross-country team and I traveled to the RMAC Cross Country Championships in Alamosa, Colorado. The meet was hosted by Adams State University, which is one of the top distance running schools in our conference and in D-II on a national level.

The trip to Alamosa takes roughly eight hours, without stops. It’s not uncommon for our team to go to meets and have only our other team members there to cheer us on from outside the course boundaries.

Cross country is a lot different than other sporting events; other sports are actually fun for most people to watch, while during cross country we literally just run. That’s why when people from our school or our families can make it to a meet, it is a really big deal and we appreciate having them take the time and make the effort to come and support our team.

Last weekend we were surprised and very excited to have our school’s president, Randy Rhine, and Athletic Director Joel Smith in the crowds cheering us on.

I feel like I can speak for my team when I say how much we truly appreciate the support we receive not only from Rhine and Smith, but also from the school as a whole, our boosters and our parents.

I would like to focus more on the support that the athletes get from our school. Our administrators really care about our teams. I have seen this first hand with the traveling Rhine has done to watch us run (ex. He traveled all the way to Fayetteville, Arkansas, to watch the Chile Pepper meet!).

While that is impressive, we also have to remember everyone else that helps us be able to do what we do for our sports. For the most part, our professors and instructors try to work with us and help us succeed in the classroom so we can succeed in our specific sports.

Our coaches and the assistants for every team want the best for us and sacrifice countless hours of their days trying to make something happen for us athletes. Our friends and families do not get to see us as much as they would probably like to because we spend the majority of our days and weekends at practice or in competitions. We think that we sacrifice a lot, but all of these people sacrifice a lot for us too.

As my time as a student athlete is coming to an end, I have realized just how much I appreciate every experience I have had at Chadron State, and as an Eagle athlete. My professors, coaches, parents, teammates and friends all deserve many more thanks and appreciation than I give them.

Most of the time, I am “too busy” to thank these people and tell them how much their support means to me, and I bet a lot of athletes feel the same way I do. Athletes, I challenge you to tell your support system how much you appreciate them and I will do the same. Because they all deserve to know their efforts are not going unnoticed.

Change is necessary

I wrote this for the Oct. 8, 2015, edition of the Eagle newspaper at Chadron State College, Chadron, Nebraska. I think it is very relevant and that there needs to be some serious changes made in our country.

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In the wake of another tragedy, our nation’s president had nothing new to say. During his response to the Umpqua Community College shooting on Thursday of last week, President Obama seemed to be venting to the public. He was sad, somber, and seemed distressed, as I feel most of us were as we heard about the events that unfolded at the tiny college, in the seemingly quaint community of Roseburg, Oregon.

He spoke about the potential all of these young victims had—he spoke about their families, and their heartache and grief. The families of these victims never get to see them smile again. They never get to see them graduate from college. They never get to see them get married, get a great new job, or travel the world. The victims never get to experience life as they should have. And this is all because a mentally unstable person with access to numerous firearms ripped their lives and futures from them.

I think that our President feels even more helpless than he did before this tragedy, because he has tried and tried again to convince Congress to pass new firearm control laws, to no avail. He has had to give speech after speech following each different massacre, with no change coming from his efforts.

Obama said Thursday, “Our thoughts and prayers are not enough…” And I think he is right. What good do we actually do just by feeling bad for these people? If we really want to help the families of these victims and prevent further incidents, we have to take action. Our thoughts and prayers won’t stop the next mentally ill individual from walking into a supermarket with an AK-47 and shooting 20 people because he or she is having a mental breakdown.

These shootings should not be routine. There should not just be a feeling of “oh crap another school shooting, maybe we should do something.” We should actually try to figure out what sort of solution will actually help our country prevent these disasters. 

“Somehow this has become routine; the reporting is routine. My response here at this podium ends up being routine, the conversation in the aftermath…we have become numb to this,” Obama said Thursday.

He should not be able to say that. As a country, we owe ourselves more than letting a mass shooting become routine. This “routine” only ends in more people senselessly dying.

We have to break the routine and the only way to do this is to fix the restrictions we have in place for buying firearms. We need to revise the laws that are obviously not working and solve this problem like many other first world countries have already.

It isn’t the responsible law-abiding gun owners that are the problem, it’s not the people who want no guns out there that are the problem; it’s the screening process before people acquire a firearm that is really the problem. So, next time you vote “no” on stricter gun laws, think about a person walking into your loved one’s place of work, or their school, or their favorite hangout and shooting randomly with the intent to kill as many people as possible.

Like I stated, it’s not the law-abiding gun owners that I have a problem with, it’s the people who can pass the process to get a firearm who should not be allowed to have them that I am scared of.

I am a supporter of guns and I am also a supporter of people who own guns. I just believe that we are not doing enough to keep guns out of the hands of those who intend to do harm with the deadly objects.

I do not want gun rights to be revoked in America, because I support the second amendment. However, in order to keep tragedy after tragedy from happening, something must be done.

In an effort to preserve the integrity of the second amendment, I believe that something as simple as a more rigorous screening process is a step in the right direction to stop the massacres from snowballing even further.

Red Hot Chili Pepper

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Yesterday I got the opportunity to run in the 26th annual Chili Pepper Festival College 5k race. Sorry if you were expecting a review of the Red Hot Chili Peppers last album, but it’s not, it’s about running. I ran my fastest 5k ever yesterday and I’m excited to see what the season has for me. I’m not satisfied with my time, and I’m ready to get faster and faster every race. College running has not always been the easiest experience, but I wouldn’t trade any of it for the world. I have met some of my best friends through running and have learned to discipline myself so I can be successful. I have amazing coaches pushing me to be my best and I am very blessed for that. Today I am thankful for my coaches, my ability to run, and the past experiences I have had.

TEAM MENTALITY

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Running has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. My dad runs marathons, my brother does 50 mile Ultra races, and my sisters have become runners as well; I guess you could say that running is in my blood. I have been running 5k and 10k races since I was 7, granted I was not as fast then, but some of my best childhood memories are from races with my family.

The picture above is from my cross-country regional meet last year. I had the best race of my running career at that competition. The rest of the year was a struggle; I broke two bones in my foot during indoor track and was out for both indoor and outdoor track seasons. I lost all my motivation, I didn’t think I would ever be able to get back to the great shape I had been in, or get any faster because of the toll that this season ending injury had taken on my training. I am still struggling to learn how to race again, but every day I get back a bit more of the confidence that I had before I got hurt.

Tomorrow I go to my first big cross country meet of my junior year in college. I am very nervous, but I know that I have a lot of people rooting for me to run to my potential. Not only do I have my family supporting me, I also have the best team mates I could ever ask for. I am blessed to have these girls in my life. They are some of my best friends, and also some of the greatest competition for me. Practicing with them makes me so much better and I learn so much from them everyday. We use each other as running buddies, friends, and a family away from home.

So today, on my quest for positivity, I choose to see my supporters. I know that I have a lot to live up to, but having these people in my life makes the struggle of running markedly better. I’ll come back to running itself at some point, because it is a great joy in my life. However, the people I run   with and for are my main focus. I love them all, completely.

 

Postcards.

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To be completely honest, yesterday everything that could go wrong, did. I woke up late, forgot that I actually needed my car to drive to class, got stuck on the elevator after some jerk pressed ALL the buttons, slept through class (during which the alarm that was supposed to wake me up went off), and had a terrible practice. I tried to stay as positive as I could, but it just kept coming. It was like the world decided that it was just not on my side for these 24 hours.

After practice I went to check my mail like I normally do every couple days. I found that I actually had mail this time, and as I pulled out the slip of card stock, I got excited because I knew that it was a postcard from my Mom. My Mom is a wonderful lady. She likes to send me silly postcards with cats, or a picture from Wyoming on it just to say that she loves me and misses me. I laugh whenever I read one of them because she likes to call me crazy pet names (like “Sweet Baboo”) that she has been calling me since I was a tiny little thing and tell me the latest gossip about the characters in her favorite shows.

In high school I did not appreciate her as much as I should have. Needless to say I know much better now. She does so much for me and misses me an incredible amount while I have been on my college journey. Reading her postcards, no matter the content, always seems to make my day better. They remind me that I am loved no matter what, and that she is thinking about me. I am so blessed to be surrounded with people like her who can brighten even the most unfortunate of days.

Looking back on yesterday, it all seems stupid. I shouldn’t have been so upset about all the little things going wrong. Learning how to be positive is a process, and appreciating the things my loved ones do for me is going to help me in this journey.

So Mom, if you are reading my blog… I love you, and thanks for the card.

Little Moments Define Our Lives

Some days it’s pretty hard to find positivity. I’m trying to see the world around myself more clearly. The smallest things can change my outlook on a day completely if I look hard enough. Being from Wyoming originally, I normally have a hard time appreciating how truly beautiful Nebraska is, but today I really looked harder at my surroundings and caught this moment. It’s little moments of happiness like this that can really define out lives; if we would only allow it.

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