Legend provided by Holly Smith, Park City, Utah

I am writing this because though my heart aches and my eyes easily tear for the Verhaaren family. They will always be in my thoughts. At the same time, there is a part of my heart that is bursting with joy for a rider that has been a miracle in my life. I in no way want to take away from the importance of what was experienced on Saturday and the focus of all of our thoughts and prayers. But maybe this story will bring a little light and hope back into the lives of those who read it.

My name is Holly and I have spent a number of years supporting my husband, Gene Smith. Which may I add is no small feet trying to keep up with him. However, in the 2012 LoToJa I was asked to support my sister, Heidi Nielson, also a strong cyclist that inspires me to ride harder. But this story is not about them, or me. It is about a cyclist named Jon Olson. Jon is 33 years old and he is my brother. His story started when he was one month old, so I will try to keep it short.

Since birth, Jon has been in and out of hospitals and has had more surgeries than I can count. He has had two kidney transplants — the last one being about six years ago. On top of all the necessary operations to save his life, Jon was in a horrific car accident that left his feet and knees shattered. Being told that he would never run again and have trouble walking, he was devastated. Jon has learned to live with his health issues (did I mention the Hepatitis C that he got through a blood transfusion when he was young that kills the liver) and give what he could when he was skiing or running. Physical activity never came easy for him and usually left him completely wiped out. But Jon wanted to do what everyone else was doing and loved being outside experiencing life like the healthy folk.

So... after recovering from his last kidney transplant and foot and knee surgery, Jon was left with the question, what can I do? His only option at that time was to get a bike and take it out for daily casual rides and hope that someday he could go longer than an hour -- and maybe, just maybe, keep my husband and sister's wheels in his sight.

It was great for me when we rode together because, for once, I had someone to wait for. I was not the last one to reach the top of a climb. But, it was also hard to ride with him because listening to him breath as he rode brought a lot of concern and worry as to if he would make it or would his heart give out first.

Through it all, the pain and suffering, Jon has endured. He is a true hero, a true inspiration, and a true brother. And I can add to my list of happy days, September 8, 2012. Though it was a day of stress, fatigue, fear and sorrow, I have left room in all those emotions to celebrate a young man who has over come and is still overcoming. Jon rolled through that race, and yes, across the finish line with a respectable time of 10:14 — stronger than I have ever seen him.

Evidently the boy has nine lives. Because there have been many occasions when the family heard the words “he’s probably not going to make it through the night.” But he has, all the way to LoToJa. He will continue on, inspiring me and reminding me that I have it pretty darn good even though I no longer can keep up with him or my sister on a bike. I can't even think of riding with my husband unless he has climbed all four Salt Lake area canyons in a morning. But at least I can ride a bike!

May I just finish with a shout out to my sister, who with her own trials amazes me every time I ride with her. And... a shout out to anyone that attempts LoToJa. May we all endure the head winds.