Jamie, a Life Time® instructor and mom of two, has simple advice for the students in her cycle classes: "You have one option: It's not to give up, it's not to give in, but it's to give everything you've got."
That mantra has pushed Jamie through thousands of hours of riding, including pedaling for a cause as part of the annual Ride for a Reason benefiting St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and the Life Time Foundation, which promotes healthy food in schools.
Yet, it’s her 7-year-old daughter, Bridget, who’s taught her everything about resiliency lately.
After more than 10 months of cancer treatment last year that included a leg amputation, Bridget says she wants to ride for St. Jude.
In February 2018, Bridget was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in her right leg. She received care at St. Jude, benefiting from the charity she and Jamie supported as fundraisers.
"The worst day of my life was sitting down as Bridget lay on the couch recovering from her biopsy, telling her that when we thought we might be looking for a bone infection that, unfortunately, they found cancer," Jamie said. "And I'll never forget the look on her face when she looked at me and said, 'No, Mommy, no.'"
Jamie's Life Time family came through strong with support. The mirrors at her gym were emblazoned with messages of encouragement for the talkative little girl who was a regular on stage at her mom's cycle classes.
At St. Jude, Bridget underwent chemotherapy and surgeries that included a leg amputation below her right knee.
“The day after her amputation, she announced, ‘I can’t wait to do Ride for a Reason,'” said Jamie. It will be the first time Bridget has ever participated.
Last year, Jamie's Life Time location was a top fundraiser for the indoor cycling event.
Ride for a Reason is a 4-hour cycling event that's open to both Life Time members and non-members; this year's event will be March 9, 2019, in 117 Life Time clubs across the country.
If there's not a Life Time near you, or if you're unable to make the March 9 date, there's also a virtual ride option. Find out more and register.
It's beyond words. I can't even explain how much Ride for a Reason and St. Jude mean to myself and my family at this moment.
More than 7,200 people and 1,000 teams participated in last year's event, surpassing a goal of $1 million.
"Ride for a Reason is a fun, lively event. A lot of our locations have DJs and music and food and just a great time," Jamie said. "But really in the end, Ride for a Reason is just that — a reason to help children with cancer, and their families, so that they can get better through the journey and not worry about the medical bills and the cost of living, and they can worry about their children."
As a patient mom at St. Jude, Jamie encourages cyclists to find motivation in the children who are working as hard as they can to beat cancer.
Bridget participated in a Ride for a Reason kickoff event in November wearing a mask because her leg wound was still healing and her immunity was low. “She must have been so hot in the mask, and I know it was hard. She did it,” said Jamie, "and she didn’t even complain. I would have complained.”
But Bridget has a special source of strength. She rides for her friends at St. Jude — the kids she knows who made it and those who didn’t. She rides to say thank you to St. Jude for the care she received and to help out the next kid who needs help.
With motivation like that, Jamie can’t help but ride a little harder, too — side by side with her daughter.