The Huffington Post: 5th Annual Meningitis Gala

NMA Gala

The National Meningitis Association gala (NMAGive Kids a Shot, held recently at the New York Athletic Club, attracted people from all over the nation and from all walks of life - just as meningitis affects people from all walks of life. This fifth annual event was once again both an emotion-filled evening and a stellar success in aiding the fight against meningitis, a potentially vaccine-preventable disease.

KHOU Houston: Meningitis survivor who lost both feet celebrates her 'sweet' life

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In an award-winning photograph by Paul Vincent Kuntz, a photographer at Texas Children’s Hospital, a young woman stares fiercely at his lens. She is obviously strong, determined, and confident. But the black and white picture captures your attention also by what it does not show. The young woman leaning against a bicycle is missing most of her fingers and both of her feet.

KVUE Austin: Meningitis survivor, amputee to compete in Paralympics

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Riding a bike is something we all learn to do when we're kids, and Jamie Schanbaum was no different. In 2008, she was a University of Texas student using her bike to get around Austin. "I was just a commuter. I wasn't a competitive cyclist at all," she said.

Now, she is a gold-medal-winning competitive cyclist, but the opportunity to become an accomplished rider came with a cost.

Long overdue update

Velodromes at Home Depot Cenetr

Hello consistent readers! Excuse the delay with this post, but there is much to update on.  Currently I am in school and taking a class in Personal Relationships at UT here in Austin.  It's good to be back on campus again since I took this past semester off for traveling and cycling.  And boy, that semester went by quickly.

I know I've blogged on the trips I've done recently in Paris for a meningitis conference and a relay triathlon in La Jolla, CA.  But It's been long over due, and I'm going to post about the rare experience I had in Guadalajara where I road in the Para Pan American Games.  What an amazing experience.  I was very new and definitely intimidated by everything, including the team - The US Paralympic Cycling Team.  Who would of thought that in three years from when I got sick, I would be riding with this elite team?! Blows my mind.  I never knew this would be in my life?

In early November the Paralympic Committee (I believe) sent my mother and I to LAX where I would go to Carson, CA to have my first practice at the velodromes with my team. When I first walked in, everything was very quiet since the arena gives an echo like affect.  First off this place was huge! It's an indoor cycling track 250 meters long and on their turns can bank I think close to 48 degrees.  With this steep turn, you must obtain a certain speed in order to maintain steady on the turn, or you can slip and fall.  On a side note, I know that the US para cycling team are competing in LA this weekend to participate in the World's track event at the Home Depot Center.  I am not competing because in order to go to World's, you must have been at the Nationals track competition, and since I wasn't there I do not compete in World's.  Unfortunately, I will not be there this weekend either to support the teammates because I have an exam next week that I must make a good grade and there is much to read still.  And on that note, I wish them luck this weekend.  I know they really want to beat Canada and I hope they do.  Good luck to them!

Back to the track practice.  I had never done this before, nor have I seen what a velodrome looked like.  But I loved it.  Yes, scared at first but with the right speed, the turns are fun to do.  The teammates were great to meet, and all had very interesting stories to share.  Some are amputees like me, some are partially or close to being completely visually impaired, others may have  MS, or others have recovered from a stroke. But all are BEASTS on the track.  They are all insanely fast.  I had no idea how I was going to catch up with these people.  I thought, "Am I going to actually get that fast??" This was just the beginning.  Each teammate varied on how long they've been on the team. Some whave been on since the late 90s and some have been on for just two years.  But most, if not all, were at the Paralympics in Beijing.  Some of my teammates are World Champions, and at practice, they are the ones that giving me advice and are helping me through my first track experience.  Unbelievable and I am grateful.  You can say, I'm learning from the best.

So to say the least, I had a blast and discovered that the track is my new love when it comes to cycling.  You don't have to worry abut hills or  bumps on the road or anything.  Just go fast and turn left.  Ha.  Very fun and I can't wait to do it again.

 

And forgot to mention how much US cycling team"swag' I got.  I loved it, and was slightly overwhelmed but couldn't complain.  So much Nike gear, and amazing new cycling outfits with USA on it. Pretty cool, if you ask me.

 

Practice lasted only four days.  When meeting my teammates, they had no idea that it was my first time on the track and they said I did really well and that I impressed them.  I was relieved.   But soon after, maybe just a short week after, I was being flown to Guadalajara for the Para Pan American Games.  My first international competition!  Very thrilling, exciting and I will remember it all forever.  I even walked down with the US Team to celebrate the opening ceremonies! It was crazy! Soo many performances, and soo many athletes! Definitely a proud moment.

The Day after that we were doing the Time Trail on the Road, where I had to ride 24 miles in the middle of the city.  The roads in Guadalajara aren't so smooth either.  Thank goodness I brought my bike to Bicycle Sports Shop to give my Specialized Allez road bike, that was given to me as a sponsorship, for a checkup.  Let me just add that this bike is and has been amazing to me.  Such a great fit for me.  She does well on the road and she really proved herself on the bumpy brick roads in Mexico. And thank goodness the service crew at BSS were able to sync my bike up to Dillo tires to secure them from dangerous terrain down there.  Thanks people at Bicycle Sports Shop.  You guys helped me out in my journey through the Para Pan American Games and I appreciate it!

Other than that, I did well on the road and  I did great on the track.  I competed in two different events on the track; the pursuit (12 laps = 3000 meters) and the sprint (2 laps = 500 meters).  Not the fastest one out there, but definitely set my own personal record.  I gotta say, it's crazy to think how this is just my 6th or 7th day on the track, and I'm in an international event - pretty cool.  Then on the last day we had the road race(our fourth event), and I had to ride 24 miles.  I can't believe I was able to experience something unique like this.  Not many people can say they have did this, and now I can say that I have.

I can't wait to do it again and for now, that news/information is on standby.  When it comes to going to the Paralympics in London this fall, it becomes very tricky.  Basically there are only a certain amount of slots for the athlete, that each country and sport can compete for.  And with each event (Pan American, World track, World Cup, etc.), the team competes in all the events to medal to earn more points, to get more slots for all the athletes.  And in the end, they add the points and determine how many slots are given to each sports, and then the coach decides who goes by filling up the slots with different athletes.  So since there are only a certain amount of slots, it will be difficult to say if I will be going.  I am very new, and everyone else is not only more experienced than me but they are faster.  But who knows, if there are enough points earned for the US cycling team to get more slots for London, then there is a possibility that I can go.  I hope I can go.  I would love to participate, and I will know after the last event (Road nationals this June in Augusta, GA, like last summer).  It's important not only to get many points/slots, but I also must qualify under standard times at the National's Road competition in order to go to London for the Paralympics.  So currently I am home taking very minimal credits so I dont fall behind in my training.  I just signed up for a new gym and also taking on new coaches. Can't wait to get a new routine going and focus on my training.  Can't wait to see what it's going to look like by the end of the semester but I hope to get my Time Trail time down when I am Augusta, GA competing in Nationals in June.  For this may determine if I will be in the Paralympics this fall in London.  Wish me luck.

On a side note.  I am going to be signing up for different local rides here and around Austin.  For example, on Feb 19th there's the Barely Hare Ride at 1 pm.  It's a flat 24 mile course, and I'm ready and eager to get back on the road to race n' ride.  I plan to do more rides and build up my endurance since I really want to do the Shiner GASP ride on Cinco de Mayo where I'll do 100 miles.

 

Thanks for reading and stay posted!

Jamie Schanbaum

 

Challenged Athletes Foundation - San Diego Triathlon

NMA Team - Anna, Mike and Jamie

On Sunday, October 23 the La Jolla Cove was transformed as it hosted the best day in triathlon for  The Challenged Athletes Foundation. More than 200 challenged athletes, kids and permanently injured military personnel participating alongside 500+ able-bodied athletes, celebrities, sports legends and professional athletes  took on the new “challenge distance” triathlon with a 1 mile swim, 44 mile bike, and 10 mile run.  All told, the Aspen Medical Products San Diego Triathlon Challenge raised more than $1.2 million to fund adaptive sports equipment, training and competition expenses for individuals with physical challenges so they can live full and active lifestyles.

Jamie raced with a relay team representing The National Meningitis Association.  Mike LaForgia a meningitis survivor from New York did the 1 mile swim, Anna who represented her boyfriend who is a meningitis survivor did the 10 mile run and Jamie did the 44 mile cycling course. It was clearly a challenged course for Jamie - 44 miles - ugh!!  I complain if I have to drive 44 miles.  But Jamie cycled the course and of course I was truly amazed.  The course was an array of obstacles, beginning with fog and cold riding up to California coast to hills and I mean steep hills through the east side of La Jolla.  KC, Jackie Levy and I were driving the pace car - we drove next to her, in front of her and behind her - cheering her on and of course we were there if and when she needed to stop and take a break.  Take a moment a look at TJG facebook for all our pics - we had a ball.  Again - thanks Lynn Bozof and the National Meningitis Association to allow us to participate in such an amazing event and to once again bring attention to meningitis and to this vaccine preventable disease.

Well now to our next adventure - Jamie will be in Los Angeles with the US Paralympic Cycling Team.  Jamie and the team are at track cycling camp at the LA velodrome.  If you're not aware of this amazing and I must say scary sport check it out at La Velodrome. When we returned from our Meningitis conference in Paris Jamie was informed that she will be adding this sport on top of her road race cycling.  So just another exciting event as Jamie gears up -HA! no pun intended - for the Parapan American Games in Guadalajara Mexico.  We will keep you posted

Confederation of Meningitis Organisation Conference - Paris, France

CoMO Conference  Paris, France

Well, I realize it's been a while since we've posted but needless to say we've been quite busy.  Although there is so much so say it will be all in due time.  What I will do is start with the CoMO Conference in Paris, France and I will work backwards - one post at a time.  So as The JAMIE Group is a member of CoMO and I am the Regional Directors of the Americas we are fortunate to attend this wonderful conference in Paris.  For reference my  Americas Region include Canada - U.S. - Mexico - Central America - South America - Brazil.  It's quite a region but Meningitis is quite an issue all over the world.  The conference included  CoMO members from around the world - 41 representatives from 23 Meningitis organisation and 17 countries from around the world attended making this the biggest conference yet.  The conference is an opportunity to come together to share experiences and ideas,  discuss current situation of Meningitis globally and to gain new skills that will help us raise awareness in our own countries.

We learned a lot and met a lot of wonderful people - it was a learned experience.  The conference gave Jamie and I a chance to meet meningitis survivor and families who have lost loved ones to this horrible vaccine preventable disease.  It was also wonderful to meet Doctors and Scientist who share our hope to protect our loved ones.  The 3 day conference gave us an opportunity to understand this disease more and to learn of the issue other countries have.  It was very upsetting to know the effects of this disease in other countries.  But the conference also ignited another fire inside of us and to understand that there is still so much to do.  When you have an opportunity visit the JAMIE Group facebook page  to see all the incredible people we met and all the fun time we had.

Speaking of fun times we couldn't be in Paris, France - yes I said PARIS, FRANCE without extending our stay and so we did.  And by the way we had our own French speaking Private Tour guide - Roni Schanbaum.  And did I mention Roni's roommate Courtney was able to join us.   Just before Jamie got sick Roni was a student in Paris and so now was our opportunity to see what that was all about.  Well we went and did it all - riding on the Metro was an adventure and of course the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, The Lourve, Sacre-Coeur, The Musee dOrsay, a night ride on the Seine, we saw a show at Moulin Rouge and more and more. Jamie even had an chance to celebrate her 23rd birthday in Paris and of course Roni really got to help her celebrate and to show her the night life of Paris.  Yes there are lots and lots of pictures -  just none of Moulin Rouge - HA!

Well we made it back safely and believe when I say there is nothing like home - the good old USA!!  Jamie of course will agree with that comment.  Today as I write this message our bags are packed ready to take us off to another adventure.  Wait till you hear this - my beautiful, incredibly awesome Jamie is participating in the Challenged Athletes Foundation - San Diego Triathlon.  This will be a relay event and Jamie will be taking care of the cycling part of the relay.  Jamie will be riding 44 miles - unbelievable.  Unbelievable considering that less than 3 years ago Jamie was stricken with Meningitis and less than 3 years ago Jamie lost both legs (below the knees) and all her fingers were amputated because of this horrible vaccine preventable disease.

This adventure never ceases to amaze me and I hope you will be back on board and stay tuned for the incredible journey we've been on and on the adventure we are yet to tackle.  Just a brief summary of what is to come.  I will tell you all about the new law - The Jamie Schanbaum - Nicolis Williams Act and all the opportunities we have to spread awareness, to educate, to inform and to advocate.  We will also tell you of the Gold Medal Jamie won in cycling during the U.S. National Championship in Augusta, Georgia.  This opportunity has lead to the U.S. Paralympics announcing that Jamie is on the roster of 16 cycling athletes (8 men - 8 women) who will compete in the 2011 Parapan Games in Guadalajara, Mexico Nov 12-20.  USA - USA!!  BUT there is more and more to come.

Thanks to all who have supported  Jamie and the Schanbaum Family

Texas Jewish Post: Jamie Schanbaum is on the move

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If at first you succeed to some extent, keep pushing the envelope. Not a quote that can be attributed directly, but these words define the strength, persistence and resolve of former Dallas resident, Jamie Schanbaum. On Nov. 12, 2008, Schanbaum woke up at a friend’s home, feeling more than not right. “I went home and couldn’t stop feeling cold and nauseous,” said the former Temple Shalom member. “By the time my sister took me to the hospital I couldn’t even stand on my own.” Schanbaum was diagnosed with Meningococcal Septicemia, a diagnosis that would change the course of her life.

NY Times: Delight and Unease Over Law on Student Vaccinations

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Among the things 22-year old Jamie Schanbaum could not have anticipated three years ago was standing two inches taller, winning a national Paralympic gold medal in cycling and reveling in the Texas Legislature’s passage of two bills in her honor. Those gains, however, came after significant losses — most noticeably of both legs below the knee and much of each finger, the result of a bout with meningococcal septicemia in her sophomore year at the University of Texas.