At the start of 2016, strangers continued recognizing me from the Chicago Athlete Magazine cover featuring Wendy and me. Attention and praise make me uncomfortable. This year, I received plenty of both. Instead of discomfort, I found joy.
In February, I joined Keri Serota, Melissa Stockwell, and Levi Kane presenting at a Francis Parker school assembly. 1,000 students and administrators watched in awe as we shared stories of personal triumphs through national and international elite level Paratriathlon and the Dare2Tri Paratriathlon Club. Principal, teachers, and administrators told me how inspiring I was. Keri, whom I have known for seven years, said, “Wow! I had no idea you were such an amazing storyteller.”
In April, Ryan Nord guided me through the BOA Shamrock Shuffle 8K. In June Lindsey Cook was my eyes all weekend at the Dare2Tri triathlon camp. The camp ended with a triathlon where I front crawled the swim finishing in minutes. We hit 26MPH on the bike. A photo of Lindsey and me racing to the finish line appeared in a local newspaper. In August Dan Tun guided me for the Chicago Triathlon super sprint. It was our first race together since Dan guided me to my second straight regional title in 2014. Thanks to Cynthia Shur Petts and Kyna Lenhov for offering me a slot at the August This One Woman variety show. I brought down the house. Having the audience roaring throughout gave me confidence I could do stand up.
September was life changing. Director, Nich Radcliffe, asked me to audition for the role of Greg, a blind character, in a production of the hit classic, Bleacher Bums. Fifteen hours after receiving the sides, I did. I had the great privilege to audition alongside beautiful and talented, Katherine Bellantone, who was part of the cast. I was anxious, but she insisted I did well. Nich offered me the role on the spot. I accepted. The experience was more than I ever dreamed. I was in awe of each actor and crew member on a daily basis. From day one, I felt overwhelmed and out of place. Opening night. Katherine initiated the most significant conversation I have had since Jenna Parker encouraged me to qualify for Paratriathlon Nationals. Katherine inspired me to embrace my greatness and magnificence. She looked into my eyes down into my core and brought me to life. I will forever love and respect Katherine for all she has said and done to change my life in ways she may never realize!
Because of Bleacher Bums, I was interviewed by Janet Davies of ABC7 and Chris DeRosa of WCIU. Doors have been opened for me at Victory Gardens, Prop THTR, Telling Tales Theatre, and 16th Street Theatre to write and perform.
I made my Serving The Sentence debut in September then brought down the house at Is This A Thing Chicago in October. Erica Alansari and Mike Casey guided me for my seventh Chicago Marathon and seventh Boston Marathon qualifier. I inspired grade school children at a assembly and company managers at a corporate gig.
Thanks to Pinnacle Performance Company for sponsoring my marathon and triathlon dreams. Thank you to triathlete, surfer, writer, actress, model, director, Jenna Parker, for being my coach and friend. Thank you for reading this post. Whatever comes my way, in 2017, I hope you will come along for the ride.