JettRiders stop in St. Charles County on cross-country trip

Earlier this month, I spent time with the King Family who live in Weldon Spring, Mo. Their son, Tyler, has been diagnosed with Duchenne Musular Dystrophy. Through my day job, I’m constantly writing about mesothelioma, so I understand how frustrating it can be for families like the Kings who have been impacted by a rare disease that doesn’t receive much media attention.

This is why I spent four hours at their home and even hitched a ride with the cyclists’ caravan down Highway 94. Just to make sure I had all the information to write the best story I could.

The final article took me three hours to write. It was a hard topic to write about – to stay honest about the fact that DMD has no cure, but, also, present the optimism and hope, I observed from everyone there that day. I hope I succeed. You can click here to read the article or I’ve pasted it below.

From Cali to the Jersey Shore
Cyclists spanning the country for a cause stop in Weldon Spring

By Sarah Whitney, For the Journal
Saturday, August 14, 2010 3:05 AM CDT

Just after 2 o’clock in the afternoon Aug. 7, 14-year-old Tyler King pushed the joystick on his motorized wheelchair forward and raced toward “heaven.”

But the parade of cyclists whizzing down his street in Weldon Spring beat him there.

“I couldn’t go any faster. The chair only goes so fast,” Tyler said later.

Once they dismounted, each cyclist shook hands with Tyler and introduced themselves.

The cyclists, called the JettRiders, are a group of teenagers and adult leaders biking across the United States to raise money for research and awareness about Duchenne muscular dystrophy – the disease Tyler lives with.

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Q&A with Miss Missouri

The third time was the charm for Erika Hebron at the Miss Missouri Pageant.

The O’Fallon resident – competing as Miss Gateway St. Louis – was crowned Miss Missouri June 12 at Missouri Military Academy in Mexico, and also competed in the 2007 and 2009 pageants.

She won a $10,000 scholarship and will go on to represent Missouri at the Miss America Pageant in Las Vegas. It will air Jan. 30 on ABC.

Hebron, 23, said she’s already begun preparing, including working with a choreographer for her talent, which is dance, and fitting for a gown.

“It’s a ways away, but it’ll be here before I know it,” she said in a phone interview.

Hebron took a break from judging the Little Misses of Missouri pageant in Mexico on July 22 to talk about being Miss Missouri, preparing for the Miss America Pageant and her work as a dancer in The Muny’s “Damn Yankees” production.

Q: What motivated you to compete in pageants?

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Writing muscles

As of Sunday, I will officially be a free lance writer. A story I wrote about a ground breaking event Mother’s Day weekend for a Habitat for Humanity home is slated to run Sunday, provided no news breaks at the last minute.

The story was around 550 words. I was worried it would be too short, so the first comment I asked editor Jamie Quagliata when I visited the office yesterday, was how many inches it was.

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