More MS news articles for Jan 2002

Dream motivated cross-country cyclist

By Beccy Tanner
The Wichita Eagle

Two years ago, when Wichitan Delbert Richardson first woke from a dream where he saw himself biking across America, he never envisioned it would lead to him carrying an Olympic torch.

But shortly after 8 a.m. Friday, Richardson will carry an official Olympic torch. His wife, Monique, will too.

Richardson made national news last fall when he completed a 5,100-mile journey by bike that began in Seattle and ended at the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

The 48-year-old Wichita native did so despite battling multiple sclerosis for four years.

The disease initially left him depressed and physically unable to perform daily activities. He began using a wheelchair, stopped driving his car and could no longer work.

Nevertheless, last spring, after experiencing the same dream three more times, Richardson began a cross-country journey on a recumbent bicycle.

On April 9, he began his six-month journey. In the process he lost 40 pounds -- and also many of his fears about life.

"... It was more about getting out of myself and into doing for others,'' he said.

"You have a vision of what America is supposed to be like," he said. "Being a person of color, I was going into areas that you think normally you might not be accepted. And here these people were opening up their homes and hearts to me.

"And I thought, 'This is what America is.' "

After he runs his leg of the relay, Richardson will pass the torch to his wife, Monique.

"I was in total shock when I found out I'd been selected," Monique Richardson said. "The first thing I said to Delbert was, 'But I don't run!'

"And he's been making me go out and train every day, every evening."

As he looks back, Delbert Richardson said he had no idea his dream would take him so far.

When he was in the desert, a Hopi Indian told him his dream was no regular dream. It was, instead, a vision quest.

He thinks of it more as an odyssey.

"Journeys have ends," he says. "This is an odyssey where you have to keep going."

© The Wichita Eagle 

Torch runner inspires mother's support

By Kenna Griffin
The Oklahoman

EDMOND -- "Did you ever know that you're my hero? And everything I would like to be?"

The words from the popular Bette Midler song "Wind Beneath My Wings" hold a special meaning for an Edmond mother and daughter.

"It's always been a song between the two of us," said Kathleen Means, 54.

She said her daughter is her hero.

Means' daughter, Katrina Shaklee, hopes the wind is just right Friday, the day she accomplishes one of her lifelong goals -- to become part of the Olympics.

Shaklee, 28, is one of 61 Oklahomans who will carry the Olympic flame through Oklahoma as it makes its way toward the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City.

On Friday, Shaklee will carry the flame from the state Capitol, north on Lincoln Boulevard to NE 29 and Lincoln.

Shaklee said she has chosen to jog the two- tenths of a mile.

To train for the event, Shaklee said she has been jogging with her "little black mutt," Harley.

Shaklee said she's not concerned about the jogging portion of the event, but she is worried about carrying the 3 pound, glass-topped torch. She is afraid she will drop it.

"Nobody's dropped it yet. I'd forever be remembered," she said, laughing. "I think it's a great opportunity. I love the Olympics, and I've enjoyed sports all my life."

Shaklee was chosen in July from more than 210,000 nominees to carry the torch.

Although several family members submitted essays on Shaklee's behalf, it was Means' essay on why her daughter was an inspiration to her that caused officials to choose Shaklee as a torchbearer.

Means said she simply told her daughter's story.

While seeking a master's degree in sports administration from the University of Northern Colorado, Shaklee awoke on New Year's Day, 1998, blind in one eye.

Means said it later was discovered her daughter's occasional blindness in one eye was a side effect of multiple sclerosis.

"Everybody was devastated for a while, but she attacks everything head- on," Means said.

Means said despite the blindness in one eye, her daughter got her master's degree in one year. She said her daughter took daily injections to control her illness.

Shaklee said when her relapsing, remitting multiple sclerosis acts up, her symptoms include blindness in one eye or numbness in her legs.

"MS affects everyone differently, and it's very unpredictable," she said. "I could wake up tomorrow and not feel anything from the waist down.

"Every day, I wake up and thank God that I'm well for another day."

In 1998, the same year she was diagnosed, Shaklee married and moved back to Edmond.

After her move, Shaklee said she decided to host sporting events for physically disabled athletes.

"Because she couldn't do what she wanted to do so badly, which was work for a sports franchise, she came home and went to work," Means said.

In February 2000, Shaklee formed the Edmond-based, nonprofit organization The Sports Group Inc. That same year, the organization began hosting the annual Endeavor Games for athletes with physical disabilities.

Because of the success of the Endeavor Games, the organization started a second event, the Oklahoma Amputee Golf Tournament.

Shaklee is working on a third project, a special- needs baseball team that will begin in April.

Means said the way her daughter helps others makes her a hero.

"She always manages to look at the positive," Means said. "She took lemons and made lemonade.

"Anytime you're helping people, that's the goal in life."

Means said the nomination was a way to give her daughter something for helping so many others.

"She has watched the Olympics since she was a little child and always wanted to be part of it in some way," she said. "I just think it's so fantastic that she's going to get this opportunity to do something that she's wanted to do for so long.

"I'm so very proud of her. She's just a really neat individual."

© The Wichita Eagle