New resident finds warm welcome in local running group: Her story earned her ‘Most Inspirational’ awardTo say Brenda Sorensen Krippner comes from a competitive family would be an understatement. Her brother earned a silver medal at the white-water slalom kayaking world championships. Her parents have judged two junior world championships in the sport, three world championships and the Barcelona Olympic Games. Sorensen Krippner herself is a two-time national champion in the sport.
By: Katrina Styx, The Hastings Star-Gazette
To say Brenda Sorensen Krippner comes from a competitive family would be an understatement. Her brother earned a silver medal at the white-water slalom kayaking world championships. Her parents have judged two junior world championships in the sport, three world championships and the Barcelona Olympic Games. Sorensen Krippner herself is a two-time national champion in the sport.
When she had children, her focus naturally shifted to her family. The birth of her second child in 1991 led to a more extreme shift. Samantha Adler, 21, was perfectly normal and healthy up until she was 18 months old. That changed over the course of a single weekend. One Friday night, Sammi was fine, Sorensen Krippner said. The next Monday she was in the hospital – the first of many stays.
Sammi was diagnosed with a rare neurodegenerative disease in which her mitochondria don’t function properly. There are a lot of unknowns about the disease – doctors haven’t even been able to pinpoint the cause and can’t say for sure what Sammi will face as she gets older. What is known is that since that first hospital visit, she has been in need of extensive care.
Looking after Sammi is a 24-7 job, Sorensen Krippner said. Besides the medical care in itself, Sammi has to be supervised at all times, since she doesn’t have her own sense of self-preservation and can suffer seizures. Her brain development was affected as well. Sammi has about five words she can say, Sorensen Krippner said.
The hardest obstacles, she said, have been behavioral. Sammi loves amusement parks, so much so that when it comes time to leave, she throws massive tantrums. Once, when leaving the Mall of America, 14 police officers surrounded the car, thinking that Sammi was being abducted, Sorensen Krippner said.
To better care for her daughter, Sorensen Krippner works out of her home and has a team of caretakers who help look after Sammi. And although her daughter has a disability, Sorensen Krippner doesn’t believe there’s anything Sammi can’t try. She has a special stroller, wheelchair and a modified tandem bicycle that allow Sammi to join her mother in all sorts of activities. Sorensen Krippner can push her daughter on walks or when running; they can ride the bike together; Sorensen Krippner and the rest of her family have even taken Sammi rock climbing, walking her across the rocks and carrying the chair in to wherever they’re climbing. Sammi can walk on her own, but she’s strapped into the equipment to ensure she stays safe.
All the time spent being “Sammi’s mom” had an effect, though.
“I forgot who I was,” she said.
Over the summer, she connected with the new Hastings running group, Moms on the Run. She had wanted to get back in shape, and wanted to do something for herself, she said.
“Running was something for me,” she said.
The group also offered her a chance to get to know other Hastings women. Sorensen Krippner moved to Hastings just this past July from the west metro and didn’t have any friends here.
“By the end of the season, I found out I have a lot of friends here in town,” she said.
On a few occasions, Sorensen Krippner brought Sammi with her to the group’s running practices. She would push her 100-pound daughter in a special stroller as she ran, which was another challenge in itself. At 51, she’s one of the older members of the group, and that with the extra weight to push sometimes made it hard to keep up, she said. But Sorensen Krippner got help from the group’s coaches, who would take turns pushing Sammi along.
“The support I got from the ladies was awesome,” she said.
Last weekend, Sorensen Krippner marked a new milestone. Although she had never been a runner, she completed her first 5K in Bloomington with Moms on the Run. It’s an accomplishment that neither she nor anyone else in the group expected to achieve, she said.
Now she’s set two new goals for herself. Next spring she aims to run a 5K with Sammi, and in 2014 she plans to run a marathon.
Just prior to the Bloomington run was a Moms on the Run end-of-season banquet, at which more than 550 women from all the other Moms on the Run chapters. At the banquet, Sorensen Krippner was given the “Most Inspirational” award for her story and success.
“It was something I didn’t ever expect,” she said.
It was an emotional experience for her, especially when all the women present gave her a standing ovation, she said.
Her experience has led her to give the following words of advice:
“Put your mind to it and be the best that you can be, whatever that might be,” she said.
Moms on the Run
About 25 women and three coaches participated in the Hastings Moms on the Run inaugural training program from April through August, said coach Tracy Yoder, who founded the Hastings group. About a dozen ran in the Lady Speed Stick 5K in Bloomington Aug. 26, including Sorensen Krippner. Seventeen attended the end-of-season banquet. Another Hastings participant, Heidi Cunningham, was recognized as one of the top three for most weight lost among runners from all locations. Cunningham has lost more than 26 pounds training with the Hastings group, Yoder said.
The group’s fall season runs from Sept. 4 to Nov. 3. Training sessions are held Tuesday evenings at 6:30 p.m. and Saturday mornings at 8 a.m. Registration is still open online at www.momsontherun.com. The group is open to women (mothers and non-mothers) of all ages. Next April, the group plans to start a Cottage Grove chapter.