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Dad rides race in daughter’s memory

by Sharlene Irete

It’s a 15-mile round trip from Shawn Lester’s home in the Gardnerville Ranchos to where his daughter Alaina is buried in Eastside Memorial Park in Minden. He said he rides there every day and has only missed 10 days since Alaina died in 2003.

Lester rides in the “24 Hours in the Old Pueblo” mountain bike race this weekend in Tucson, Ariz., to honor his daughter’s memory.



“For me, it’s an event for Alaina,” he said. “I’m not out to be in the top five. I’ve set a number of laps to honor her heaven day.”

Alaina Sage Lester lived from Aug. 14, 1998, to Feb. 4, 2003. She died at the age of 4 from croup, an infection that causes the trachea and larynx to swell and prevent breathing.



“I honored her birthday by doing the ’24 Hours of Tahoe’ bike race at Northstar in August of 2003,” said Lester. “I was last in the race but no one rode with a bigger heart.”

Lester said he will use the opportunity of the Old Pueblo race to raise funds for a preschool library program at Scarselli Elementary School and for The Compassionate Friends.

“I’m riding for our Northern Nevada Compassionate Friends children,” he said. “TCF in a non-profit support group for parents who have lost a child at any age and for any reason. I want to support the weekly pre-kindergarten reading program at Scarselli that gets kids used to school.”

On the fender of Lester’s bike are the words, “Just One More, Daddy.”

“It means, just one more ‘ride,’ ‘slide,’ ‘minute,’ and my favorite, ‘just one hug, Daddy,'” said Lester. “I’d load her up in her seat and we’d go for rides. Keeping Alaina’s memory in mind, I rode the first and last lap of the Northstar race with her seat on the back of my bike.”

Lester’s goal for the Old Pueblo race is to complete nine or 11 laps at 15 miles per lap. Any donations he raises during the event will be split between Scarselli’s preschool reading program and The Compassionate Friends.

“Even spare change helps as a donation,” he said. “It all adds up and it goes to two excellent causes. Pueblo is a mentally, rather than a physically, tough race because of the ‘why.'”

Lester and his wife Kristine took over the Carson City chapter of The Compassionate Friends two years ago.

They meet at 7 p.m. the last Tuesday of the month at the Adams House Cancer Resource Center at 990 N. Minnesota St. in Carson City. For more information, contact the Lesters at pinkfor2@yahoo.com or at 265-5468.

n Contact Sharlene Irete at sirete@recordcourier.com or call 782-5121, ext. 217.

Grief Support After the Death of a Child

The mission of The Compassionate Friends is to assist families toward the positive resolution of grief following the death of a child of any age and to provide information to help others be supportive.

The Compassionate Friends is a national nonprofit, self-help support organization that offers friendship, understanding, and hope to bereaved parents, grandparents and siblings. There is no religious affiliation and there are no membership dues or fees.

The secret of the group’s success is simple: As seasoned grievers reach out to the newly bereaved, energy that has been directed inward begins to flow outward and both are helped to heal. The vision of The Compassionate Friends is that everyone who needs us will find us and everyone who finds us will be helped.

The Compassionate Friends, Inc.

P. O. Box 3696

Oak Brook, IL 60522-3696

Call (630)-990-0010 or toll-free at (877)-969-0010 or Shawn and Kristine Lester at 265-5468.