Today I am proud to introduce to all of you a very special woman. A woman who made a tremendous impact on my life beginning when I was a shy, nervous 14 year old about to try out for the high school cheerleading team.
When I was growing up in Roseville, California, there was just one place that you wanted to be if you were excited about cheerleading. That place was Oakmont High School. The cheer and stunt team was something that wasn't seen everywhere like it is now. High level gymnastic skills and high flying stunt moves were just beginning to grow in popularity. Girls couldn't believe it when we showed up to cheer camp in the summer and we had boys(!) on our squad. Not only did we travel to Santa Cruz for camp in the summer, we also performed at every basketball game, football game, school rally and even competed in national competitions in Anaheim every spring.
As you can imagine, wrangling a squad of 40+ cheerleaders and "stunt guys" to all of these events, let alone all of the behind the scenes high school drama, is no easy task. Yet the woman who managed to do it all, and even score a few national championships along the way, is Jenny Weast, or as we all like to call her "Weaster".
Jenny began teaching math at Oakmont High School over 30 years ago. An accomplishment in itself, I haven't even mentioned why she might have a story different from you or me. You see, when Jenny was just 16 years old, she was injured in a skiing accident that resulted in her now being quadriplegic. You would never know it if I gave you the background on her life's accomplishments already. She's gone skydiving I don't know how many times, she loves to ski, she drives her own minivan, and she even enjoys white water rafting. She has created an incredible life, full of fun-loving friends, a warm and inviting home, and a meaningful career.
The fact that Jenny has been able to accomplish so much in her life, even after facing obstacles that most of us couldn't even imagine, is not why my old high school cheerleading advisor means so much to me even nearly 20 years after high school. It is her sincerity and genuine caring nature for each and every student that has passed through her classroom. When I was feeling the stresses of senior year between social and academic expectations, she was there with a friendly reminder that I had a lot to be proud of and that I was enough, more than enough. When a math student needed someone to listen or a few extra minutes between classes, she worked her hardest. When the football games dropped to freezing cold temperatures, she put on another blanket and sipped her hot chocolate until the final whistle blew. She watches all of her students and cheer kids with a heart full of pride and welcomes them back with open arms as they all inevitably return for a visit to their favorite teacher and mentor.
So why are we here talking about Jenny today? Sadly, because of Jenny's career success, she has reached a point where she is no longer eligible to receive Medi-cal funding. This funding is absolutely necessary for Jenny to pay her caregivers. These caregivers provide her with the basic necessities for daily life - getting out of bed, showering, laundry, preparing meals and more. An article was published in July by the Sacramento Bee which explains more of the specific financial details behind this ongoing battle.
Despite the setbacks, Jenny's goal is to remain in the classroom.
Earlier this year when I nervously launched this new website, I'll bet you can guess who was my first customer. Now granted, she asked for a custom lavender and green design, which I didn't have, but all these months later, I was able to create a special lavender, gold and green lonestar block that reminds me of an iris, Jenny's favorite flower and we are dedicating it to her. With each sale of our Perseverance block, we will make a contribution to Jenny's caregiver fund.
I found a few thoughts on the symbolism behind an iris:
Iris is a reminder to express our true colors. Iris also tells us it's okay to shift and change. The whole point of blooming is about growth. The Iris iridescence is a symbol to embrace who we are, while accepting the changes we go through.
As we all go through changes and even challenges in life, we try to remember to embrace it all and never give up. I will forever be thankful for the influence that Jenny has had in my life and I hope that you will help us support her moving forward with either emotional or financial support. Aside from the cornhole tournament, a YouCaring site has also been established.
Thank you for reading along and learning about this important warrior.
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