Local Hero Kristina Ripatti Continues To Inspire
Two hours forty six minutes and 8 seconds.
That's how long it took former LAPD officer Kristina Ripatti to complete the Boston marathon on a bitterly cold April day. Kristina would tell me it was a lot tougher than she anticipated.
And this is a woman who knows tough.
It's been nearly three years, since she and her partner attempted to stop a jaywalker near USC in Los Angeles. The assailant had just robbed a store--and fired two shots into the young cop. One of those bullets would leave her paralyzed from the chest down.
This once vibrant wife and mother was told she may never walk again.
As you can imagine, she was devastated.
But Kristina dedicated herself to regaining her life.
She was determined to be a wife to Tim … and a mother to little Jordan. She was determined to learn how to live within her body again. It has been a privilege to watch her journey.
Countless hours were spent in the gym to regain her upper body strength. (She trained on a specially designed bike.) It seemed no physical challenge was too great for Kristina. She was soon out on her surfboard again with her husband and her surfing buddies.
But perhaps the most stunning news came in 2007, when it was announced she was pregnant with her second child. . It was a high risk pregnancy, and many people were concerned it was too dangerous for mother and child. But Kristina proved the doubters wrong. On the day before Valentines Day 2008, she gave birth to a healthy baby boy--Lucas Braden Pearce. Her family and extended family of the LAPD rejoiced in the miracle.
I could go on and on about Kristina. She is such a remarkable human being. And she has touched me profoundly. But perhaps the most extraordinary thing about her is that she takes on these daunting tasks quietly. She never tells you how extraordinary she is.
I spoke with her soon after she finished the Boston marathon on Monday. She was enjoying a much deserved snack of doughnuts and bagels. I could hear little Jordan playing in the background. She told me the course had been very challenging. When it grew to be too much...she would think of her two young children. "Do it for Jordan…do it for Lucas." She would think of her sister who passed away from lupus ... "Do it for Maureen."
And so she fought to complete those last punishing miles. "Heartbreak Hill." Kristina was fighting the cold, the numbness in her body and the extreme fatigue. Strangers cheered her on. Two girlfriends ran the last stretch with her, for support. For inspiration. Kristina would not give up. And when she finally crossed the finish line--this former cop, not prone to sentimentality, would weep. She had reached her goal.
A robber's bullet had stolen the feeling in much of her body. But nothing … nothing could take away the heart of Kristina Ripatti.
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