It doesn’t matter if you finish first.

“It doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from. The ability to triumph begins with you. Always.” Oprah Winfrey

So, a group I follow on Facebook called “I ❤ to Run” posted this a few days ago. I have to say, I didn’t see the original post on Swim Bike Mom’s Facebook page nor the comments- but y’all know I’ve been in the same boat, so I can guess at the kind of crap that went down. I believe that this is the most inspiring letter I’ve ever read. It’s not only made me totally ashamed to feel insecure about my own body, but has encouraged me to push harder and be proud.

Response from Jackie:

“Thank you Swim Bike Mom for posting this [picture of me.] I am humbled and proud to be an inspiration and actually quite appalled at how some of the posters are treating this. I used to weigh 415 lbs. [and] walking to the mailbox was a struggle. Some people don’t just “let themselves go” …[they] have actual medical issues that prevent normal every day activities. Say what you will but I got off my ass and did it.

And I consistently do it. I do it for me, not you …and I Inspire and amaze myself every day at how far I am able to push my body mentally [and] physically. I feel bad for people who can’t look at any picture of ANY athlete and not be inspired.

Honestly, hearing how this photo has inspired folks, I hope it goes viral! I want everyone to know that it IS ok to be any size and still compete. I am comfortable enough with myself to truly appreciate any praise I get from athletes who [have] finished while I’m still out there encouraging me. Triathlons are truly the only sport I have ever been involved in where people genuinely care about others…I am proud of myself, my unbelievably supportive teammates at the Atlanta Triathlon Club and those online like Swim Bike Mom who takes this for what it is. Inspiration for anyone to get out there and do it. If I can inspire just one person, then I have fulfilled my purpose.

I don’t hear [the] negativity, only the passion I have in my head and heart to achieve anything I set my mind to. I would encourage anyone to watch my progress as I train for the Half Ironman in Augusta on September 30th. Many people half my size wouldn’t even dream of trying to even enter such an event. But IM DOING iT! First, last, dnf, at least I started and will continue to follow my dreams…. FOR ME. I hope that all of us encourage others to be their best and are proud that ANYONE attempts these activities.

If you can’t applaud every athlete, especially those of us who it takes twice as long to finish and twice as much effort to move twice as much weight across the line, then I feel sad for you that you can’t appreciate the beauty in life and everyone’s journey. FYI the day after this race, I swam the Ridges 5k open water swim from GA to NC… so anything is possible if you put your mind to it!!! I wish all of you good luck and hope to hear about all of your successes (and not so successes on your journeys) as well!!!
Love, Jackie”

If you want to check out Swim Bike Mom’s blog for the original story, click here.

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