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Freezin’ for a Reason: Standing Up for Raelyn

I wrote my story of my paddle down below, but first, many requests coming in for where to donate to Raelyn. Here’s how:
Visit my website and donate online at
http://www.getfitwithjodelle.com/freezin-for-a-reason.php
Or Make Check Payable to: Greg and/or Rebecca Beckler
PO Box 581,
Kimberling City, MO 65686

Thank you so much. Please take a moment and read what’s on my heart to share with you today….

Prayers and Paddle for Raelyn 3[dropcap]A[/dropcap]s I stroked my way through the darkness, on the morning of my Paddle For Her Battle, and in the midst of water freezing on my board in the 32-degree darkness, I couldn’t help but feel warm with love and support. I thought of what brought to this point in my life…paddling for a little girl I had never met.

I thought about how I teared up when I read her story, and yes, I cried for her but I mostly cried for her mother and father. I can’t begin to understand their pain of watching their beautiful baby girl suffer, and the fear that must sometimes grip them when they think of losing her. I thought about my paddle in my head for days of how I would raise money for her, how cold it might be, and how many elements were against me.

I prayed and knew there was no way I couldn’t be a part of something I was so passionate about. As time went on, my husband helped me plot my course and figure out the wind and weather. I would watch videos of Rae over and over to draw inspiration for doing my paddle when I started to get nervous. The nervousness immensely had set in two days prior to the event, and one of my fellow reps, Mike Simpson, kept texting me inspiration and encouragement and advice.

It was as if the tiny voice that rang out my name, washed over me and melted any fear and anxiety

Greg and Rebecca, the parents of Raelyn, emailed me pictures of Rae and their many thank-you’s for something I hadn’t even done yet, but the nervousness, the fear of the unknown, was still there. The love, prayers and support from others were all around me, but the nervousness was still there. Finally on the eve of the paddle I listened to a podcast that Stoke Radio did with myself and Greg and Rebecca and Raelyn, and at the end of the radio show, as Raelyn spoke, she asked for me. A little girl, who had never met me, asked for me and asked if I was paddling for her! My heart melted, and it was as if the tiny voice that rang out my name, washed over me and melted any fear and anxiety. I slept good that night, awoke at 4:30am gathered my gear and headed for the water.

I couldn’t get discouraged or dis-enchanted. I was cold, but I was on fire for a little girl

With my support boat by my side, I couldn’t get discouraged or dis-enchanted. I was cold, but I was on fire for a little girl. I paddled strong. My strokes felt strong, even though my hands trembled from the cold. My feet were numb, but my legs were firm standing. I began praying for Raelyn as I stroked. As I came upon mile 10, the sun really shone on the glittery, silky smooth Table Rock Lake I was on. I peeled my wetsuit halfway down and let my body soak up the Vitamin D. My trembling stopped, and my body pressed on. When my stroking got tiresome, I need only recall Rae’s tiny voice calling out my name, and my power came back.

When my legs got fatigued, I need only remember how many chemo treatments she had been through and was still smiling

Prayers and Paddle for Raelyn 1When my legs got fatigued, I need only remember how many chemo treatments she had been through and was still smiling, and I had renewed energy. When my back, sore and achy made me want to stop, I thought of Greg and Rebecca and how I’m sure there were many times they wanted to throw in the towel but because of that little girls smiling face, they kept going. I breathed prayers through each stroke for her.

At mile 22, I hit the dam. Not literally. It was my turn around point and the water was calm, crisp, and the sun was upon my shoulders with warmth and ease. I was in heaven. I hit a high and knew I could make it all the way back on a day like this, hitting my goal of 34 miles. I headed back with ease. At my turn around point, I actually got down into the 40-degree water and rested my back, and now it felt fierce and strong. I stroked, and the phrase, “I am Standing up for Rae”, kept pounding through my head. “I am standing up to help her win the battle against Leukemia”. “I am standing for someone and something I believe in.” And I prayed for her.

There’s more to stand up paddling than just a great day on the water. It’s a community of passionate individuals who “take a stand” for health, happiness, and the honor to give back when they can. All around the world there are paddles to bring awareness about the dangers our oceans and waterways are in, and paddles for Wounded Warrior, and races to benefit environmental and community issues, as well as animal rights, Stand Up for a Cure, and many more.

Stand up paddling has become a fun, fit way to stand up for a passion and purpose to be able to do it and have the beauty of an environment and like-minded people to enjoy it with

Prayers and Paddle for Raelyn 5Stand up paddling has become a fun, fit way to stand up for a passion and purpose to be able to do it and have the beauty of an environment and like-minded people to enjoy it with. We take of the sport by taking care of one another. I prayed and thanked my Creator for the opportunity to find such a great passion, purpose, and sport.

I felt empowered by this thought, until I rounded the corner at mile 23 and the wind picked up. Anyone who knows me and my paddling ideals knows I despise wind of any kind. As a self-proclaimed mermaid, I enjoy calm, peaceful, tranquil waters, and wind seems to agitate my spirit. I’ve been that way since I was little. Any time wind would come up, even a little bit, I would go back inside. When I head to the beach, if it’s a windy day, I won’t surf, I won’t even stand on the beach. The wind always defeats my spirit as anxiety forms inside me and I go indoors.

So as the wind began to fiercely whip through me on miles 25-27, head on, I wanted to quit, but I held on to Raelyn’s smile and voice

So as the wind began to fiercely whip through me on miles 25-27, head on, I wanted to quit, but I held on to Raelyn’s smile and voice. “Jodelle? Is Jodelle paddling?” She’s convinced I’m a real mermaid, after I emailed her a picture of myself in my mermaid tail. And this mermaid couldn’t let her little mermaid down. I prayed for her and I paddled on, head on into 17mph winds. At mile 28, tears ran down my face. I wanted to stop.

The wind, now up to 20mph had knocked me to my knees, and the water was beginning to wash over my board and I was getting cold. I didn’t want to stop and drift backwards, so I didn’t take any breaks, and couldn’t dare stop and pull my wetsuit back over my arms and chest, for fear of losing ground or getting sideways in the wind. I let the tears stay and I kept paddling. I could feel the temperature dropping as a cold front was arriving earlier than expected, but the sun still shone.

The wind picked up further, I cried harder, and I thought of all the tears Raelyn’s parents must have shed for her. I prayed for them. As a person who plans to adopt a baby in the very near future, I thought of what that must feel like to have a little one you love so much be in so much angst, pain, watching them get shots, and chemo, and take steroids that make them feel psychotic. When Raelyn takes her steroids, she can’t stop moving. It makes her mind over stimulated, and her body overly anxious and she has to move, move, move until the exhaustion of herself, and her parents is completely worn thin.

I thought of the wind as my “steroids”, something I didn’t want, but had to deal with, in order to paddle hard and fast. If I could just use it to my advantage to keep paddling hard, and make it around the corner, maybe the wind would no longer be a head wind, and I would be able to rest and keep going. If Rae could endure, so could I. And I prayed for her.

I knew I had to listen to my body before hypothermia set in

Freezing for a reason mapAt mile 30, I finally rounded the corner with what seems like days of paddling. My body now trembled and shivered from the cold water and wind. I recognized I was not okay. Not only that, but as I rounded the corner, the wind actually increased and was even more of a head wind in my new direction. I signaled for my support boat. I didn’t want to stop, but I knew the temperature of my body was not good. Tears still came as I held onto the boat. With the help of my support boat, I made the decision to stop, even with only 4 miles left to go. I didn’t reach my goal. I felt sad about that, but I knew I had to listen to my body before hypothermia set in.

I was completely soaked from head to toe as the wind had driven water all over me, and the temperature had almost fallen, along with my body temperature. I climbed in the boat, loaded my board and we headed in. I prayed and thanked my Creator for the opportunity to stand up for Rae, and was thankful for her, this little girl I have never met, who inspired me to keep going and keep smiling when life gets tough. I smiled at Dale, my support boat driver who through it all, kept encouraging me, and saying things like “I thought your hips looked big with that wetsuit pulled halfway down.” That will make any girl paddle faster, when you tell them their hips look big. Thanks, Dale.

And of course one of my best friends, was riding shotgun, my photographer, Mandy McMurdo, who kept saying how proud she was of me. As I rode back to the dock, I felt an inkling of what it must be like to be on this journey that Raelyn is on. Sometimes life is sunny and calm and she has the love of good people all around her. Other times her world is a whirlwind of agitation and over-stimulation and calamity that makes her journey difficult, but the beautiful thing is she still has the love of good people all around her, and who are fighting for her. I believe this paddle has taught me a valuable lesson that I wish to share with others.

Prayers and Paddle for Raelyn 4Whether life is sunny, or windy and cold, you are not on this journey alone. We are all in this together. Things don’t happen for a reason. A Creator who loves us doesn’t design us with flaws that are going to make us suffer through life. Life is icky, and throws curveballs at us, but our Creator makes sure that there are people around us to support, to love, to encourage, and to ignite passion within us so as to help one another.

“Love one another….faith, hope and love, but the greatest of these is love….encourage one another as long as it is called Today….STAND firm in the faith…and love your neighbor as you love yourself…” This is what life is all about. This is what makes life worth living for…being there for others, standing up for what you believe in, and feeling the encouragement and love all around you to give you strength, so that you can in turn, STAND up for what you believe in and give strength to others. I am humbled and honored that I got to paddle for the Beckler family, and specifically to paddle for Rae’s battle.

Would I do it again? In a blink of a eye, I would. And I will. I will be back on the water for her and many others. That’s what we do in this community. Yes, and fitness and the fun is there, but it’s much more than that. It’s the love and SUP-port of water-loving, passionate individuals who don’t need a reason to STAND, but find one anyway. And I am stoked to be a part of it.

[author image=”http://standupjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Jodelle-Fitzwater1.jpg”>Jodelle Fitzwater “Jodelle Fitzwater is the Midwest Ambassador for BiC SUP and Certified Fitness Trainer for SUP TV. She is also a self-proclaimed mermaid because she has no fear of depth and a great fear of shallow living. Find her instructional fitness videos by visiting SUP TV on YouTube and by visiting www.getfitwithjodelle.com “liking” on Get Fit With Jodelle on Facebook.” [/author]

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