It is with great excitement, inspiration, and motivation that I write this blog post. Actually, it was supposed to be a podcast, but my seven-year-old guest was a bit shy when it came time to talk about herself. This post is about an amazing little girl named Jordyn, who lives in Orlando, FL. You might not have heard of her, in fact, I know you probably haven’t…unless you play Minecraft and follow “LilSharkToothy.” Why? She does what she does not for the spotlight, but for herself and her family. Because she wants to. Plain and simple.
When I heard that my good friends from the Cooper family were headed on an endeavor to cross the state of Florida during the Cross Florida Ride, I did a double take. I knew they had been biking as a family for a while and I had discussed my love of biking with fellow dad, Jarrod, who is simply known as “Coop.” The trek is 170 miles long and here’s the kicker…three members of this amazing family did the trek together…and one of them was only seven years old! I would like to say that little Jordyn Cooper is just like any other seven-year-old, but she simply isn’t. This kid is involved in more physical activities than most adults I know! Not only is Jordyn a shining example of humility that we can all learn from, but a motivational force for all of us to get up and get moving.
Ask Jordyn what she wants to be when she grows up and she will tell you that she wants to be a Robotics Engineer. She loves computers, Legos, and crafting random creations from cardboard boxes. In addition to all of her academic interests, Jordyn swims on the local YMCA “Storm” swim team, bikes all the time with her mom, Jen, and her dad, and eats a mostly whole-food, plant-based, vegan diet. Knowing her parents, I understand where the motivation and inspiration to be active comes from, but what truly stands out is how humble she is about her most recent accomplishment. What I thought was shyness was maturity and dedication beyond her years.
If you look at her two amazing parents you will see anything but shy. Their social media pictures are ones that make you smile. Jarrod’s videos are recorded almost everyday and say hello and “We love you guys” at the end of every single one, often including his son Jacob (16) and daughter Abigail (13) as well. Living life to its fullest makes a lot of sense for Jen and Jarrod, as they have seen more than most people will see in their entire lives. They met while serving our country in the Army as Combat Camera/Broadcast Journalists and have seen their fair share of sadness, destruction, and war first hand. Living every single day to its fullest and caring about others is a priority to them and something we can all admire.
The bike ride itself was broken apart in two days; elite riders have a one-day option as well. The Coopers chose the two-day option since it was their first attempt at the ride. The first day involved an 80-mile trek that started from Cocoa Beach. The second day was another 90 miles until the group reached the Gulf of Mexico. News traveled fast that there was a seven year-old participating in the ride and the family could hear many of the elite cyclists that passed Jordyn saying “hey, there she is, the kid doing the ride…let’s go Jordyn!” The cyclist community was incredibly supportive of this little girl as she safely pushed her body to limits that she never knew were possible…never wavering from her goal of finishing. Her father talked with me about their philosophy going into the race. He said, “We were going to go try to do this together as a family and if it didn’t work and we couldn’t finish, that would be fine, but we will have known that we tried and gave it our best effort.” He continued to go on describing a pivotal moment when Jen started to “bonk” during the race and had to stop, not sure if she could continue on. It was then that he reminded his wife that Jordyn needed her to keep going in order to finish the race and she was able to push through to the finish. To be fair, Jen is a full time nurse and didn’t have as much time to train for the race. Jen was a vital part of the race and probably had the hardest job as the front of the pack to block most of the head wind and rain from little Jordyn, while dad drifted behind to give cars a good “heads-up” about the young cyclist and her mom.
To say that this family is tired after the race is a bit of an understatement, but remarkably, one of the first things Jordyn and her dad looked up was when they were going to do their next bike race. With the right hydration, fuel, and understanding on how to survive under tough conditions from her awesome mom and dad, Jordyn was successful in being the youngest person to ever attempt and complete the Cross Florida race. While she might not have much to say and is a bit shy until she knows you, there’s no denying what this little powerhouse accomplished. May we all be just like Jordyn Cooper. You go girl!
*If you are a major bike brand interested in sending Jordyn some free swag because she is an awesome kid that has done what most others have not, just send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will get you in touch with her dad! (no member of the Cooper family has asked me to make such a request).
Jordyn rides a Specialized Allez Jr. 650 bike and wears a Specialized helmet and Giro shoes with Shimano SPD clipless pedals.