Left to right: Jackie Cooper, Race Director Deanne Jabs, Kim Wedgerfield
In the background (#225) is another inspiring teen….Nikayla Hopkins!

Our 2013 Inspiring Triathlon Story Winner:

Jackie Cooper



I’ve been morbidly obese most of my life (my heaviest weight was ~435 lbs), when I had a serious MVA in 2001 that put me in hospital with severe ankle and knee injuries for almost 10 months.  When I was finally released, rehab and recovery were my focus, but even though I knew weight loss would reduce my pain and improve my mobility, I just wasn’t able to work on it right away.

It was seven years later, when I started (very slowly) to really work on my health and fitness.  At first, all I did was to change my diet slightly; encouraged by my progress, a year later, I began strength training.  Nine months after that, I started swimming laps, but when a shoulder injury took me out of the water the following year, I switched to the elliptical.  I’d never thought I’d ever be able to do any dry land cardio, (walking was still very painful for me), and if you asked me about it, I’d have said that running was completely out of the question. 

Three years ago I started seeing a new physiotherapist, Tessa, and although it took a long time (and was very painful), with her help I made HUGE progress on my walking gait.  She’s a triathlete herself, and years ago when she told me: “you will run, you will race, and seeing as you already love the water, some day you’ll do triathlons”, I thought she was nuts!

But I guess she knew what she was talking about, because after she taught me how to run last August, I started to believe she was right.  Since then I’ve taken part in a 3K and a 5K. But then I got my bike, and it’s so much fun that I don’t run as much anymore.

In March I started thinking about doing a triathlon, and that got me fired up again. So I registered for the Olds Tri-Diva Tri.   When I stop and think about actually DOING this triathlon, I get scared, and could almost begin hyperventilating.  But then I look back at how far I’ve come and I realize that just improving my health to the point where I CAN take part is amazing, and I know it will be a glorious experience. 

Not only did Jackie finish the Tri-Diva Tri in 2013 with an amazing smile, she also completed the 2013 Strathmore Women’s Triathlon as well! Jackie participates in the para-triathlon category with her recumbent bike. Jackie has also lost over 280 pounds in her journey to a fitter life!  
Congratulations Jackie!

Past Inspiring Stories:

” Dear Deanne,
It is the day after the triathlon and I am still grinning from ear to ear. I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for organizing this event. I am one of those people who never thought I could do something like this. In fact – it was never even a blip on my radar – not that I haven’t been exposed to triathlons before, I just never believed in myself enough to think I could do it. But you did. You believed in me just as you believe in all women who want to give themselves a chance. Here is my story: I have been a volunteer for you for the previous 4 years. I have stood at the finish line and been truly happy for each and every person who crossed it as I watched to make sure they were OK.
Each year you told me I might just get inspired. And each year I laughed and never believed it would happen. Then last summer I watched a 62 year old grandmother cross the finish line with her 7 year old grandson. Both were laughing and jumping up and down. There really are no words to describe either their emotion at that moment or what happened inside me. But for just a flicker of a second I thought maybe – just maybe – I could do it.
I joined my local gym and pool the next day. I swam and I ran and was afraid of the bike and decided to wait until spring for that part! I would like to tell you the story was a good one – of a year of training and all happy things.
The truth is I got very sick in February of this year and was hospitalized for a time and unable to train for an even longer time. I was unable to eat and nutrition and training was a problem. In May two things occurred – I turned 50 and my physicians said I could get back in the pool.
With renewed vigour I joined your triathlon training group and dusted off my ol’ bike and even though I was terribly slow and less than fit – I persevered. Yesterday I finished the triathlon 248th out of 257! I too threw my arms in the air and jumped over the finish line with my husband and pregnant daughter right there cheering loudly! I hope this has given you a glimpse of the difference you make in people lives. Organizing this event is a big job and sometimes there is not enough thanks for how much work goes into it.
So from me to you – a great big THANK YOU! Joanne ”

derriceDerrice Knight


wedgerfieldKim Wedgerfield
Kim Wedgerfield – Masters 2005 story
Kim Wedgerfield – World’s World Triathlon Championships 2006 story